NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - The cottage industry of making accessories for the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and iPad is exploding. From monogrammed iPhone protective cases to messenger bags designed specifically for tablets, small businesses are using consumers' obsession with mobile devices to come up with unique - though not necessarily inexpensive - accessories.
According to ABI Research, the overall handset and tablet accessory market topped $41 billion in 2012. Apple iPad and iPhone accessories represented between $5 billion and $6 billion, or roughly 14% of the market.
"It's a large portion of the accessory market," senior analyst Michael Morgan says.
Broken down by device, consumers spent roughly $37 on accessories per smartphone in 2012, ABI Research says. For tablets, consumers spent between $40 and $50 on accessories per device.Apple's iPhone "really did start the protective case trend," Morgan says, adding that approximately 75% of users also purchase cases for their phones. Small retailers are looking to make a name for themselves in this ever-burgeoning market. "Just go on Etsy. It's the new craft. Instead of making pot holders you're making
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