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Mobile phone accessories market worth $26.5bn, to double by 2015

by Scott Bicheno on 23 September 2010, 16:07

Tags: ABI Research

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Margin makers

While people are spending more than ever on their phones, that doesn't mean retailers are pocketing much of that action themselves. After you've taken out the interests of every other player in the ecosystem - from component makers to network providers - there's not much margin left.

However, retailers can capitalise on attracting consumers prepared to commit to a grand over two years by persuading them to part with just a bit more cash on shiny nick-nacks to further optimise their phone experience.

That is the conclusion of market researcher ABI Research in its mobile accessories market data study. It seems that aftermarket accessories - those not included with the original purchase - produced worldwide revenue of $26.5 billion last year, a figure that is expected to double by 2015.

"Market growth in the aftermarket accessories segment is being driven by the explosive growth in smartphone sales," said senior analyst Michael Morgan. "Smartphones are generally higher-value products than feature phones, so consumers are willing to spend more on the accessories for them. There is also a shift to higher-quality accessories, replacing the cheap, white-label products that characterized the market until recently."

The looming ubiquity of smartphones is unquestioned, but how to make money out of them remains the million dollar question. As you can see in the charts published by Fortune below, only one company has really got the hang of making money out of the handsets themselves, and Apple's not in the habit of enriching the wider channel when it can pocket the cash itself.

But tech retailers have been making money out of iPod accessories, such as cases and speaker docks, for years, and there's no reason to doubt even greater opportunities are available in the smartphone market - especially when you consider all other phones are likely to use the micro-USB interface from now on.

Other types of popular accessories include scratch protectors, Bluetooth headsets - although the lower-end is declining - and memory cards. However, in the latter case, phones often come with at least 1GB as standard these days, so many consumers are making do with that.



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