January 31, 2005 4:00 AM PST

Boom of the iPod add-ons

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"When you buy a BMW and you are able to just pop in an iPod, what other music player are you going to buy?" he asked.

Having accessories in stock has also helped retailers that sell the iPod. Although the player has clearly sold briskly at stores that carry it, profit margins for the retailers have been thin. Accessories, by contrast, sell for far less, but at a higher markup.

"That's one of the advantages of the accessory space," Van Harlingen said. "It really does fill the entire iPod channel with a little more profitability."

For accessory makers, one of the hardest challenges is keeping pace with Apple, which has introduced new models at a rapid clip. Although the iPod has retained the same dock connector with recent updates, other changes to the product's shape and buttons mean accessory makers must constantly change their products, and devices that work with one generation won't necessarily work with the next.

At the same time, Green said that there is still a market for accessories for older iPods. Last year, DLO actually saw its case for older players outsell the similar product for newer players.

"Just because Apple is reinventing the iPod every nine months doesn't mean that people can afford to throw their old iPod out," Green said.

At times, Apple has also had a more direct role in the add-on market. After a few generations of the iPod, Apple started including a basic case. Last fall, it introduced a collection of six, rainbow-colored socks that offer a decidedly low-tech storage option for the iPod. The beauty of the socks, though, is that they work with all iPod models.

With its newest player, the iPod Shuffle, Apple has introduced a half-dozen add-ons, including a hard case, a battery pack and an armband for wearing the device while running or working out. Green acknowledges that the hard case is so well done that his company will probably want to venture into that territory with its line of Shuffle gear.

Belkin's Van Harlingen said he isn't concerned that Apple will try to take back the accessories market. "I don't think anybody got too worried when they did the socks," he said. "It kind of validates the space a little bit."

So what about the possibilities for the Shuffle?

Products are in the works, according to both Green and Van Harlingen. But neither would offer any details about what their companies had in store.

"This little space is so competitive, it's just unbelievable," Green said. "The consumers are just rabid...it makes a good idea just that much more valuable."

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I've Got an Idea for an iPod Add-On
As far as I know this does not exist yet... what about an iJacket where you can tuck your iPod into the sleeve and maybe even have some speakers in the jacket too, like the Gap Hoodio. They could make all kinds... leather, wool, wind or rain proof, all colors... the possibilities are endless.

Over 400 Accessories For the iPod... <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://allwaysmusic.modblog.com/" target="_newWindow">http://allwaysmusic.modblog.com/</a>

Posted by (59 comments )
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Sorry it's already out there
I have forgotten the companies name, but they make a jacket that those features and it has controls on one of the sleeves so you never have to take the ipod out the pocket except to charge it. There is another company that makes a jacket with photovoltaic cells in the back that will charge your devices. Now if the two got together...
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
Link Flag
Someone needs to get shuffle cases shipped to lower manhattan quick... I don't want anything fancy just a case, why does nobody have them? grrrr

Glad they gave Apple credit for the switch to a proprietary firewire interface, that really was a brilliant move on their part - we know existing accessories will keep ipods selling for the next few years if for some strange reason nothing else does...
Posted by (2 comments )
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video ipod glasses
There's a product called the i-Theater glasses. You hook them up to the video ipod and, instead of the little ipod screen, you watch the movie via the 2 lcd screens inside the glasses. No info about it on your site. Many online sellers for this product (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.i-glassesstore.com/i-theater.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.i-glassesstore.com/i-theater.html</a>).
Posted by delmundo2 (1 comment )
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iPod battery
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Posted by sunpowcn (1 comment )
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