For Martin Zadorian, the owner of WirelessGround in Glendale, Calif., there's no better sector to be in right now. His firm, which specializes in cell phone accessories like carry cases and car chargers, has seen revenue double in the last three years as consumer demand for smartphones has exploded.
"Our customers are paying $400 to $500 on a phone and are willing to pay more for a good, quality complementary products," said Zadorian, whose inventory includes $90 Bluetooth headsets and keyboards -- some of the company's most successful products.
The mobile phone accessories business, once characterized by cheap leather carry cases and low-quality headphones, is now a booming industry.
Aftermarket accessories -- including batteries, memory cards and scratch protectors -- are estimated to generate almost $35 billion in revenue in 2011, and more than $50 billion in 2015, according to a recent report by ABI Research.The rise in cost and capabilities of smartphones has helped fuel this demand for high-end accessories. "Today's smartphone probably includes Bluetooth and a camera -- nothing new there -- but it may also incorporate Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication, GPS, multimedia, speech recognition and more," said ABI senior analyst Michael Morgan, in a press release. "All these add value to the device, making it more worth protecting and more able to benefit from high quality, high-priced accessories." iSkin, a Toronto-based company that makes colorful cases for Apple and Research In Motion's (RIMM) Blackberry products, has also seen "tremendous growth" in the last few years, CEO Andrew Ackloo said, though he declined to give specific figures. While the bulk of iSkin's customers traditionally come from the U.S. and Canada, the company has recently seen an uptick in sales from China and Brazil. "The appetite to personalize [mobile] accessories is growing," Ackloo said. --Written by Olivia Oran in New York.
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