MIDVALE — It's a phone call that virtually any company on the planet would love to get — Apple, Inc. ringing to ask if you're interested in collaborating on a new product.
For officials at Midvale-based Zagg, that call came about nine months ago when the largest tech company (and ninth largest company of any kind) in the world contacted them to see if they would be interested in developing a new, wireless charging pad that would be compatible with Apple's new line of must-have digital gadgets.
"The idea was that we could launch, together, a wireless charger optimized for their new devices," said Zagg CEO Randy Hales. "This is something that very rarely happens."
The company jumped at the opportunity and worked with Apple's tech corp, a team Hales noted that has "some of the best engineering skill sets in the world," to bring that wireless charger to fruition.
On Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook made the official announcement of a wireless charging option for the new iPhone 8, the iPhone X, the Series 3 Apple Watch and the updated AirPod earbuds. Through the collaboration with Apple, Zagg subsidiary mophie developed a wireless charging pad that's been custom designed to work with the products, all of which made their debut Tuesday on the stage of the Steve Jobs Theatre, part of Apple's futuristic new campus dubbed Apple Park.
Hales said mophie, a company that doesn't capitalize its name and has made a name for itself developing smartphone charging accessories, worked with Apple to ensure the new charger was 100 percent compatible with the new products and that the device was up to Apple's demanding specs.
"It's been full engagement with Apple since they reached out to us," Hales said. "They've been amazing to work with."
The charging pad, which will retail for $59.95, will be available to the public on Sept. 20, just two days before the two new iPhone 8 models go on sale. And, like the iPhones, the new mophie charger will be available at both the brick-and-mortar Apple Stores around the world and via Apple online.
Local tech sector experts agree — it's a very big deal for the company.
"For a Utah-based company to be connected with an Apple product launch — especially this one where so much hype had been built up about the 10th-anniversary products and the new Apple campus — is really, really, outstanding," said Troy D'Ambrosio, executive director of the University of Utah's Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute.
"I see it as another one of those important mileposts in Utah's development and progress as a tech hub."
D'Ambrosio said the mophie-Apple collaboration builds on a trend he's noted of Silicon Valley tech giants building ties to Utah's burgeoning innovation sector.
"What we've seen over the last five to 10 years is a closer connection with Bay Area tech and Utah," D'Amobrosio said. "The Adobes, the Facebooks and many others are looking for, or have already established, offices or satellite operations here.
"It shows our level of sophistication, which has been extremely high for a long time, is finally being recognized."
Hales said mophie's leadership position in the realm of charging technology was definitely the impetus behind Apple's invitation to collaborate. Ten-year-old Zagg acquired the company in 2016 in a $100 million deal that combined the individual companies' expertise in device accessories — for mophie, smartphone chargers, and for Zagg, its popular keyboard cases for iPads and invisible screen protectors.1 comment on this story
While the company is under an ongoing confidentiality agreement with Apple, Hales said the successful partnership on the mophie charger could lead to further collaborative endeavors.
"Being partnered up with the strongest consumer brand in the world is a benefit no matter how you look at it," Hales said. "We don’t look at this as a one-product play, we look at it as a tech platform.
"We have lots of plans and ideas of where we can take that."
The mobile phone accessories market topped $66 billion in 2016.