This, according to Mark Gurman:
Apple is looking to own yet another aspect of its product experience. The company is gearing up to revamp its third-party accessory selection across all of its retail stores by next week by reducing the amount of accessories available in stores to ones sold in packaging co-designed by Apple. Apple has been working with select third-party accessory makers over the past six months to redesign boxes so that the experience more closely matches the boxes of Apple’s own products.[…] According to the memo, the packaging will be mostly white to match the Mac, iPhone, and Apple Watch boxes, while they will also include simpler fonts, new photography, higher-quality materials, and more consistent compatibility labeling.
This is a pretty bold way for Apple to flex their muscle on third parties. No longer is a really good product sufficient criteria for consideration in an Apple retail store; now, the company needs to be cool with handing over part of their marketing as well.
Plenty of accessory companies already attempt to ape Apple’s packaging already, though. If you’ve walked into an Apple Store lately, you must have noticed how many boxes are on the shelves with plain lettering and a product photo on a white background, covered in a semi-satin coating for a luxurious look. Through that lens, it’s almost beneficial for accessory companies to have this kind of access to Apple’s marketing team. Requiring better labelling of accessory compatibility is an obvious benefit to customers, too.
It’s pretty bold, though, for Apple to require accessory manufacturers to subject their packaging for their critique and revision. It’s not without precedent — with the exception of iPhones, plenty of cellular carriers repackage the phones they sell. It’s a big step, and I bet a lot of accessory makers are uneasy about this, so we’ll see how this plays out. It’s good business to be in an Apple retail store, and everyone knows it — especially Apple.
Update: Good stuff from Sebastiaan de With.