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Accessories Proliferate for the iPod at Macworld

Posted by iNext - 2006-01-14

As Macworld gets in full swing, the appearance of so many accessory makers indicates a robust and growing market for third-party devices and add-ons geared toward the iPod media player.
In the exhibition hall for Macworld, about 20 percent of the 330 vendors are selling iPod-related products, ranging from nifty cases to wireless headphones.

Those exhibiting are only a smattering of those looking to cash in on the iPod's popularity, however.

Wealth of Choices

More than 400 iPod accessories are on the market, some analysts have estimated, and the number is growing. The industry, once dominated by consumer-oriented products like cases, now has a number of options for professionals as well.

Examples include a portable voice recorder, a laser pointer, and docking stations that are geared more to cubicles and small spaces than to home uses.

A particularly popular product is the iTrip FM transmitter, a device from Griffin that allows iPod owners to use their radios for listening to their digital music in the car.

The growth is good news for Apple, certainly, but not just because it sparks even more iPod sales.

Last year, the company put a royalty arrangement in place that ensured it would get a slice of accessory revenue in exchange for giving its blessing to third-party developers in the form of a "Made for iPod" logo.

Capitalism 101

It is not just specialty makers like Griffin and Belkin that are pursuing iPod owners. With the startling popularity of the player, major companies also have developed product lines or are pondering how to cash in.

Recently, Levi Strauss announced that, later in the year, the company would be shipping jeans with a special iPod pocket, retractable headphones, and a built-in docking cradle.

Car companies have been eager for some time to woo iPod users. Volkswagen has a special outlet in some of its models for iPods, and Chrysler just announced it would provide iPod-friendly options in most of its 2006 models.

"It's all just an indication of the old saying that nothing succeeds like success," said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "If a market is booming, and people are looking for products, there will naturally be companies happy to provide them."

IPod owners also tend to be more keen on gadgetry and accessories, Kusnetzky added, which gives the accessory industry even more momentum.

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