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Accessory Makers Gear Up for iPad Launch
The Wall Street Journal reports on strategies being employed by accessory manufacturers as they prepare for the launch of Apple's iPad next month. The companies, many of them already experienced with pushing out accessories for the iPhone, are taking a range of strategies, with some rushing certain products to market as quickly as possible to match the launch of the device itself, while others are holding back, waiting for customers to dictate what they want to be able to do with their iPads before engaging in product development.
The moves show how an entire ecosystem of new hardware is ready to spring up around new Apple products. While Apple in recent years has spawned cottage industries of new software businesses -- particularly around its iTunes App Store -- the accessory business around its gadgets has also thrived and driven the growth of many third-party manufacturers. According to Piper Jaffray & Co. estimates iPod and iPhone accessory sales -- including cases, headphones and chargers -- totaled about $3.7 billion world-wide in 2009.The report points to several major case manufacturers, which have the advantage that their products will almost certainly be in demand by iPad customers. Consequently, Griffin's president notes that his company was reportedly drawing up case designs within hours of the iPad's introduction, while Targus had even been designing products before the iPad was revealed, relying on rumors to develop ideas that only needed slight tweaking once the iPad's true dimensions were known.
Companies developing more complex products such as external batteries and speaker docking stations, will take a bit longer to come to market, while others are planning to sit on the sidelines to make sure that a market for their products exists before committing their resources.
For its part, Apple has announced several accessories for the iPad, including charging stands with and without a keyboard, a case that doubles as a stand for the device, and docking adapters to allow users to connect their digital cameras to the iPad for photo transfers.