iPod Accessories: No Signs of Slowing Down

Peter Burrows

Interesting story today in the New York Times about the health of the iPod accessory business. That's certainly the view of Larry Mondry, the CEO of CompUSA Stores (a quick aside: this guy evidently likes to own electronics as much as he likes to sell them. Larry's got THIRTEEN TVs in his home--even though he says the only show he habitually watches is 24.).

Anyway, he confirms that the iPod ecosystem is alive and well. He says that out of the jillions of products sold at CompUSA stores, the single biggest selling product, in unit sales, is the iPod FM transmitter. And he says the market is showing all the signs of remaining a major opportunity. "A year ago, people would buy an iPod and leave," he says. "The salesman would have have to say 'did you know you can get a speaker with that?, or whatever? Now, that's all changed. Now, most customers ask, 'which speakers should I buy with this?' We must sell 20 different kinds of speakers."

So what is his view of Apple, the competitor? He admits he had his doubts when Apple decided to begin opening its retail stores in 2001. "Before seeing the stores, I didn’t think a manufacturer could create a great customer experience. But once I saw the first store, it was clear they’d done their homework. They blended the cachet of the brand with the cachet of the products."

Indeed, he does not hone to the view of most retailers, who complain that the stores are stealing sales and shoppers. Rather, he says Apple's products have created so much new demand, that there's enough to go around. "Where they have opened stores, I'd bet they've actually made the market bigger," he says. "I hate admitting that, but it’s probably true."

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