Chargers and speakers remain strong lines, while cases drive the nonelectronic segment of iPod accessories.
China suppliers of accessories for the iPod are highlighting electronic auxiliary products. The category, which comprises mainly chargers, cables, speakers, docking stations, adapters and earphones, will continue to drive R&D and manufacture even as nonelectronic counterparts rise in volume. Boasting features and functions designed to enhance the performance of the iPod, the former segment is regarded as a high-value line with a strong growth potential. An increasing number of companies are in fact looking to boost output of electronic auxiliary devices.
The key segments are chargers and speakers. Among nonelectronic accessories, cases are the best-sellers.
Under efforts to escape tightening competition in the low end and broaden market reach, more suppliers are eyeing the midrange and upscale sectors. Toward this end, many are upping the ante in terms of functionality and ease of use. Makers of chargers, for instance, are incorporating multiple ports such as Mini-USB and Micro-USB to enable connection to other media players besides the iPod. Several are matching portability trends via compact designs. Supply of in-vehicle and wireless variants is likewise rising. To follow the “green” trend, some manufacturers are launching solar chargers.
In the speaker category, Shenzhen Alyta Industry Co. Ltd is exploring vibration sound technology in its AYV-09 model. The unit can work on fl at surfaces such as glass, wooden floor and metal. In addition, it can double as a charger. Actsun International Ltd, meanwhile, is looking to enhance audio quality in its model HF-1005A 2-channel hi-fi iPod speaker. The product delivers 20W power output and 85db S/N ratio.
To boost competitive edge further, especially in the international market, a rising number of manufacturers are considering securing a license from Apple. Shenzhen Wellsun Enterprise Co. Ltd, for example, is applying for authorization for its iPod chargers.
Chargers and speakers are expected to continue growing rapidly in 2011. In the nonelectronic category, cases will remain strong.
Prices are forecast to rise by 5 percent in the next six to 12 months. The upward adjustment will be driven by the recent increase in the cost of raw materials, particularly copper and plastic. Elevated manpower outlay and the strengthening yuan are other factors.
iPod chargers: The migration to midrange and high-end products will spawn features-rich chargers. Makers expect fewer travel and dock types, which generally belong to the entry-level sector. Mainstream models from China currently support 5V and 1,000mAh output voltage and current, and basic circuit protection. Low-end versions, which account for about 40 percent of the country’s output, deliver 5V and 700 to 1,000mAh. These incorporate simple circuit protection and LED indicators. In addition to the iPod, they work with the iPhone and other media players. Most items in this category use plastic housing.
Midrange products represent about 45 percent of supply. Although similar to entry-level counterparts in terms of output current, the former variants support 5 to 5.5V voltage, and boast complete and stable circuit protection, and LED indicators. These ABS-encased units also connect to the iPhone and other media players. High-end chargers make up only about 15 percent of yield. They have the same output voltage as midlevel categories, but can pack 1,000 to 2,000mAh. Such devices are also compatible with the iPad. The housing is typically ABS or metal alloy.
The model 09D mini iPod charger from Shenzhen Wellsun is suitable for all iPod products. This ABS-encased unit supports 5V and 1,000mAh. The SC-09D-1A-MFI model from Zhongshan K-mate General Electronics Co. Ltd is an in-vehicle charger for the iPod and iPhone with 5V and 1,000mAh output voltage and current.
Most chargers from China ship to the EU, the US, the Middle East, South America, Oceania and Asia.
iPod speakers: Products from China generally incorporate video playback and wireless capability. As the shift to midrange and high-end models gathers pace, more features-laden units will be released in the months ahead. At present, entry-level varieties constitute about 45 percent of supply. The configuration has mono or two channels with 1 to 3W power output. The housing is typically plastic.
Midrange iPod speakers have a 45 percent share of aggregate yield in this segment. Like the former category, they generally deliver audio or 2-channel at 3 to 10W. The units have built-in microphones, FM radios, LCD screens, remote controls and SD/MMC slots. They support MP3, JPEG, AVI and MPEG-4 formats. Housed in ABS or wood, such types double as docking stations and chargers.
In the high-end sector, which represents about 10 percent of iPod speaker supply in China, releases can have more than two channels. The power output can hit 10W. In addition to the features of midlevel counterparts, upscale releases deliver hi-fi audio, cameras, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and high-definition playback. Most items use metal casings.
iPod cases: R&D initiatives in this category center on enhanced protection capability. Manufacturers are therefore exploring raw materials with better anti-scratch, -static, -wear and –slip properties. Companies are likewise shortening development turnaround period to time rollouts with the release of new iPod variants. For example, the RS093 model from Dongguan Raising Rubber Products Co. Ltd is designed for the iPod touch 4G.
These efforts are all in alignment with makers’ goal to step up to the midrange and high-end sectors. Although entry-level cases remain dominant with a 40 percent share of turnout, upscale varieties will rise in supply. Basic styles generally use PVC, silicone and TPU. Most units have the same external design, and comply with RoHS and CE.
For midrange categories, which account for 30 percent of output, makers employ better silicone, PC, ABS, TPU, neoprene and PU leather. These protect against dust, scratches, static and shock. The water-resistant variant also has anti-slid features. Besides RoHS and CE, they meet REACH and FDA requirements.
High-end cases make up 30 percent of production. Such types usually employ high-grade silicone, PC, neoprene, PU leather and wood, and boasts anti-wear and –fingerprint functions. These multilayer designs use colorful prints. Housing innovations emphasize novelty and sleek look. The i-624 model from GT-Coupe Electronic Co. Ltd is a silicone case in watch design for the latest iPod nano 6. It has dust- and scratch-resistant properties.
In line with makers’ objective to penetrate the midrange and high-end sectors, many are looking to broaden reach in the EU and the US. Combined, these regions absorb more than 50 percent of outbound deliveries from China.
Shenzhen Orinsong Technology Co. Ltd, which specializes in iPod earphones, ships 90 percent of its products, and 60 to 70 percent of them go to the EU and the US. For Dongguan Raising, the two areas account for 70 to 80 percent of exports of cases. Both enterprises expect overseas business in these regions to continue rising in the months ahead.
GT-Coupe, also offering iPod cases, sees a 5 to 10 percent increase in deliveries to the EU and the US. As these belong to the midrange and high-end destinations, makers targeting the areas release compliant products boasting better components and raw materials.
At the same time, enterprises are exploring emerging markets such as South America, the Middle East, Oceania and Asia. Actsun and Shenzhen Wellsun are focusing on Southeast Asia, where exports have been rising in the past six months. Both companies are introducing entry-level and midrange variants.
In general, makers foresee overseas business keeping steady or expanding by 5 to 10 percent in the next six to 12 months. The upturn rides on the robust iPod market, and the release of new-generation devices will drive the line further. The resulting expansion of iPod products will boost demand for compatible accessories.
Moreover, the rich selection in China caters not just to the iPod but also to the iPhone and iPad. This ensures makers of sustained demand even if the iPod line wanes.
There are currently more than 800 accessory manufacturers in China, over 80 percent of which cluster in Guangdong province. Shenzhen, Dongguan and Zhongshan are the main centers, providing enterprises with a rich source of raw materials and components such as charging and amplifi er ICs and plastic. Businesses in these cities generally work with several upstream partners to ensure stable input supply and costs.
Shenzhen Orinsong Technology Co. Ltd
Zhongshan K-mate General Electronics Co. Ltd
Note:This article was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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