Slide Show >>The early, runaway success of Apple Computer's iPod has spawned a whole ecosystem of third-party suppliers pushing accessories for the music player—everything from scratch-resistant cases to colorful ear buds to high-fidelity speakers that will turn the music player into a digital boom box. Some estimates put the value of the iPod accessory market in the neighborhood of $1 billion.
Just how successfully iPods flew off shelves in recent months has come into question of late, with some analysts revisiting their forecasts. Credit Suisse (CSR) analysts, for instance, say Apple (AAPL) shipped 7.75 million of the devices in the fiscal third quarter, compared with an earlier forecast of 8.25 million. The reason: It's been almost a year since Apple made major "updates and price concessions," analysts led by Robert Semple wrote in a July 12 note.
But that's having little apparent effect on the accessory market. In fact, iPod add-ons have gone, shall we say, fringe. There's a growing list of weird and wacky accessories that range from a leather thong case (it's not what you think) to a dock that doubles as a toilet-tissue holder.
In some cases, necessity is the mother of iPod accessory invention. Take Handstands' iSticky Pad. You can bet that somewhere, someone took too sharp a turn in their car, and that nifty iPod, which just seconds before had been sitting on the dash, went flying out the window. Next thing you know, someone's come up with a creative and functional iPod accessory designed to make sure your player stays in place.
Whatever other impulses are at play, iPod add-on creation is also driven by a desire to personalize the experience. Although the sleek design is one of its main selling points, the overall look and feel of the iPod has remained little changed from the start, barring certain size alterations and the addition of features such as video. Bear that in mind the next time you see an iPod in a thong.
Click here to see a slide show of iPod accessories.