Taking Another Look at the "iPod Economy"

An interesting and substantial article by Ina Fried of CNET takes a look at the "iPod economy" -- companies that make accessories and other add-ons for the iPod -- and a few of its players.

Days after Apple released the iPod shuffle at Macworld Expo San Francisco, for example, XtremeMac President Gary Bart flew to China to begin working with manufacturers on add-on ideas for the new device. XtremeMac also saw its business in December eclipse that of the entire rest of the year, something that is typically unusual but not so surprising when one remembers that 40 percent of the 10 million iPods out there were shipped during the December quarter.

By some estimates, there are over 400 accessories for the iPod out there now, creating a business thatis worth hundreds of millions of dollars. For small companies like XtremeMac, with 14 full-time employees, and others like Griffin Technology, the iPod has allowed them to prosper more than previously imagined.

Belkin, which through a unique partnership with Apple was able to release accessories such as a microphone and memory stick reader ahead of competitors, shipped its 2 millionth iPod accessory earlier this month.

After staying more on the sideline with iPod accessories, Apple has recently picked up its pace. The company has offered a dock and case for the regular iPod and a dock and armband for the iPod mini, and added low-tech iPod "Socks" late last year, but with the iPod shuffle Apple used its head start to announce five accessories: an armband, sport case, dock, battery pack, and USB power adapter.