Reader Editorial: Are iPod add-ons too expensive? | iLounge Article

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Reader Editorial: Are iPod add-ons too expensive?

Though there are thousands of reader opinions rendered each month on iLounge, we try to keep track of the most insightful ones, as well as general commenting trends. In recent months, we’ve noticed two interesting developments: with rare exceptions, the prices of iPod accessories have been creeping upwards, and reader complaints about those prices have been increasing, as well.

Rather than editorializing at length on this topic, we wanted to turn the subject over to you, and provide a single comments thread where you can express - and if necessary, debate - your opinions. That thread is below.

What have we noticed, specifically? Once hovering at $20, suggested retail prices for non-premium iPod mini and nano cases have been inching upwards to match $30-35 prices for full-sized iPod cases. Electronic accessories such as FM transmitters have started to jump from $30 up to $50 or $60. And more companies are making premium-priced speaker and car accessories - read: $200 and up - designed only for the iPod.

From our perspective, growth of the iPod market to include premium-priced options is a good thing. iPod owners should have the ability to choose from accessories developed to meet different-sized pocketbooks and needs, and thanks to accessory makers such as Bose, Klipsch, Altec Lansing, iPort, Harman/Kardon, Monster, and others, they now do.

But inflation of prices for “the basics” is a bad thing for both accessory makers and consumers. New iPod owners considering “total cost of ownership” of an iPod nano plus a (now-required) case, wall charger, and so on may walk away, instead. Price increases from big players may also drive existing iPod owners towards poorly-made options from no-name companies.

After years of selling premium-priced computers to relatively few people, Apple now appears to be trying to find the right accessories and prices for the millions of “mainstream” customers it won with affordable ($299 and below) iPods. Some of its efforts have been impressive. For example, it has developed thoughtful cases like the great iPod shuffle Sport Case (iLounge rating: A), and five-packs of iPod nano silicone cases (nano Tubes), each for $29. It also released the shuffle Battery Pack (iLounge rating: A-), a great (if not entirely necessary) $29 combination of looks and extra battery life. On the other hand, it has released things like iPod nano Lanyard Headphones (iLounge rating: B-) for $39 - a price that just seems too high for a little white rope and some earbuds - and last year’s iPod Socks (iLounge rating: B-), fabric booties which showed little of the company’s trademark design ingenuity. There is definitely such a thing as a design premium, but it needs to be earned by smart design, not presumed.

Of course, Apple’s far from the only accessory alternative - a fact which has helped make the iPod as successful as it’s been - but other companies are clearly being tempted by dollar signs, as well. At $29, Apple’s five nano Tubes are collectively priced less than the cost of a single iPod nano case from one prominent third-party case developer. Which company’s cases will get your dollars? Or won’t they?

Please share your perspectives in the thread below. Have you passed on purchasing iPod accessories because of the price? What are the ones that you think are most reasonably priced? Or are a handful of vocal readers too concerned about nothing? We look forward to your comments.

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Comments

1

Yes. I don’t want to go broke getting the best accesories

Posted by lovepoke in Paradise on October 9, 2005 at 4:08 PM (CDT)

2

some earphones (high-end) are just obscene in their pricing, and do you really want to spend that much for a set of earphones ($200-$500)??

some cases are pusing the limit ($70-$100)

I got a great pair of earphones from Koss that are extremely comfortable, mold to my ear, and only cost $20.00

I purchased a case ($19) and screen protector ($10)

other than price, does a Rolex tell time any differently from a Timex?

Posted by lookerjdc on October 9, 2005 at 4:31 PM (CDT)

3

I also have a pair of those Koss headphones.

I made the case for my 20 GB iPod out of the cleaning cloth that comes with Apple Displays.

My Shuffle never had a case. It has reached a “plateau” of scratches. In other words, it’s covered in scratches to the point where you can’t tell if it gets any new ones.

Posted by LukeA on October 9, 2005 at 6:23 PM (CDT)

4

I simply try to avoid accessories and concentrate on buying the music which is what the iPod is for. I really couldn’t afford an iPod until it got down to the $299 level, for I knew I would spend at least another fifty to a hundred bucks on necessary case, charger, stereo and car hook-ups.

I want better speakers and headphones, but I only have about 6gigs of space left on my Pod and it will no doubt be full by early next year. In an another year, I’ll probably want to upgrade to the iPod to 60gig or at least add a Nano to my collection of gadgets.

So yes I avoid the accessories as much as possible.

Posted by BakariC on October 9, 2005 at 6:37 PM (CDT)

5

Another trend that seems to be creeping in is the bundling of iPod cases in packs of three, which for many people may be overkill. One 3rd party company is selling three Nano cases for $25. Nothing wrong with a quantit discount, but I assume many people, like myself, are not inclined to spend time “dressing” their Nano in the morning before work, and would be glad to pay $10 for one.  Admittedly, Apple has taken lead here by selling a five-pack for $29, but it seems 3rd party companies would rack up more sales if they offered the one-case option.

Posted by jayhoward on October 10, 2005 at 12:23 AM (CDT)

6

Having just purchased an iPod i recently felt the good and bad side of this issue. I wanted to primaraly listen to my iPod in my car. So I set out to find a charger/transmitter that would be easy to manage as I get in and out. I found two products that seem to fit my needs. The Monster iCarPlay Wireless Plus for $80 and the Newer Technology RoadTrip!+ for $27.95. The major diference is the RoadTrip only uses one frequency while the iCarPlay is adjustable. But at over twice the price i figured that if the RoadTrip worked then one station was all I needed. I was glad that the market was broad enough that both of these products were available so I had a choice. The problem was the only place to buy the RoadTrip was from their website. The iCarPlay is in almost every retail store from RadioShack to CompUSA. I would have liked to just buy the RoadTrip but I had to order it. The sale was great and the product works wonderfully but I would have loved to buy it locally if possable. I’m sure the iCarPlay offered the retail outlets a higher margin than the RoadTrip.

Posted by cruss on October 10, 2005 at 12:54 AM (CDT)

7

One of the reason’s why the ipod’s accessories are still high, is because ipod is still a relitivly premium market, they have always been about a upmarket player, the relitive or Rolls Royce. Even if there hardware didnt match the image they were given, ipod’s are top end and cool.

When things are cool, you can charhge alot for them, example, go to a Surf Shop, look how much all the popular fasion brand’s retail for, and what extra value they are? Its just the image.

Ipod accessory manufacturers must have taken this idea, they want to be the top end accessory manufacturer, plus make a nice profit, they find the mix and it seems to be climbing. $59 AUD for a silicon ipod case is alot. But these lanyard earphones should be optional accessories, why should nano owners have to buy 2 sets of headphones, just to get a little bit of string?

Its the same reason Apple is including less and less accessories in their ipod’s, they love after sale purchasing. There is speculation the nano scratches so easily, so people will buy the case’s, just speculation from various forum members i’v seen.

If worst comes to worse everyone can just do what i saw one girl in my grade do, use a ordinary house sock to protect her mini.

Posted by mitchjordan on October 10, 2005 at 2:08 AM (CDT)

8

I see the major problem within the plethora of products that do nothing special other than being white but cost 200% of a regular version. These are especially found in the headphones, cables & adaptors area. Why do people charge too much for their basic product? Because people pay the price. So think before you buy, and the phenomenon of inflated prices will even out.

Posted by Bad Beaver on October 10, 2005 at 10:41 AM (CDT)

9

Jeremy - I’d love to see a follow-up to this editorial about third party product pricing.  Case in point, the $39 “iAttire” halloween outfit for the iPod noted on the front page today.

Posted by Joe Bob on October 10, 2005 at 2:21 PM (CDT)

10

Yeah, I agree.
The iPods can be pricey enough, so we shouldn’t have so shell-out a lot of money for an overpriced accessory or add-on.
For example the $40 nano lanyard headphones. I have a nano and I would like to be able to “wear” it, but not to have to pay $40 and to have to use the same basic earphones that came with my iPod.

Posted by igobyzach on October 10, 2005 at 2:51 PM (CDT)

11

I think that many iPod accessories are indeed overpriced, though I blame the buying public for it more than the manufacturers/retailers.  If people would simply not buy these things at such high prices the market forces would bring the prices down.  There are apparently a high number of people who are willing, either happily or grudgingly, to pay these high prices.  Until sales of high priced items falls flat we will continue to see such “premium” accessories.  I paid almost $400 for my iPod, I can’t justify spending the same amount on any ONE accessory! (such as a few of the home stereo integration or car stereo integration devices)  I’d sooner buy another iPod!

Posted by Cool Cat on October 10, 2005 at 4:15 PM (CDT)

12

Accessories have always been overpriced. Twenty dollars for a case that’s just a small, shaped piece of plastic? You have to be insane to believe that’s a good deal. I’m sure it costs waaay less than $1/unit to design, manufacture, transport, and advertise it.

Alas, people pay the price without complaint, so it stays high. The same is true for the iPod.

Posted by idiosyncratic on October 10, 2005 at 4:53 PM (CDT)

13

Its not just manufacturers jacking up prices.  I’ve seen the Belkin Autokit, available at almost every other store for $40, being sold at Best Buy for $46-$47.  It makes no sense.

Posted by Sts10188 on October 10, 2005 at 8:26 PM (CDT)

14

I’ve seen an iPod power adaptor ($29 at Apple) for $42 at ‘Best’ Buy

If you think iPod accessories are too expensive now, wait until they begin to charge a 10% dock connector tax. That sucks because speaker manufacturers will just use the headhone port, instead of the better sounding line out port in the dock connector.

Posted by LukeA on October 11, 2005 at 3:10 PM (CDT)

15

What I think should be concerning Apple is that the iPod trend is on the downturn (at least where I am). While still cool, iPods are now way over exposed and since everyone has one the impact and novelty factor has worn off. According to my sister (a year 12 student - that’s a senior in highschool) it is now ‘cooler’ or at least more exciting when someone has a non-iPod because iPods are everywhere. This means that consumers are starting to shop around and more and more won’t be buying iPod’s just for the cool factor and because they are, presumably, the only real option.

When I brought my iRiver H320 a year ago 20GB iPod’s (b&w) were (AU) $499. I got my iRiver for AU$580 AND it came with a case, microphone, power adapter etc. As consumers get more disconcerting and less and less likely to buy an iPod just because it’s an iPod Apple and the accessory makers will start having to drop the prices of their accessories because otherwise the other players look like much better value for money - you get a player (often with more features) and a case and an adapter and come cords etc.

Considering this, yes. iPod accessories are waaay too expensive (I’m just discovering this now being a new iPod nano owner) and if Apple goes ahead with this 10% surcharge then they might see people going to the competition where accessories are either inbuilt/in the box or cheaper.

Posted by jaysee on October 11, 2005 at 5:48 PM (CDT)

16

I agree with what jaysee is saying, i know people who wont buy ipod’s purely because they are to fashionable. This was true with the mini, so what did apple do, replace it with the nano, now these are rare… and people want them. The same is likely to happen with the 5g…

The ipod’s are still in the growth stage, wether people like to admit it or not, as long as apple keeps innovating there product range, i cant see them reaching maturity anytime soon.

Posted by mitchjordan on October 11, 2005 at 9:57 PM (CDT)

17

Most of the iPod accessories represent serious “overkill” for the average user, inheritantly knocking the price of them upwards. I liken most of them to using a bazooka to take down a mouse. This in addition to the fact that most consumer electronic accessories represent tons of grosses margin for the retailer. Also, there seems to be no standardization to them (IE. no “Designed Specifically for 4G iPod” labels, or an official “Apple Licenced Accessory”) So the retailers seem to be able to play whatever games they want with price gauging. It is bad enough that Apple seems to do what Bose does, which essentially is legal price fixing (in other words, no competitive retail pricing, sales, or discounting) The retailers, and Apple, have got us.

Posted by ArthurJS on October 12, 2005 at 9:03 AM (CDT)

18

I agree Apple’s “basic” accessory prices are getting too high.  But it all comes down to your personal definition of “basic.

Take the new iPod for example.  You need the USB power adapter($29) because charging over the computer is slow, and the battery life isn’t that great for watching videos (and to think all iPods used to come with one!).  I think the dock ($39) is a pretty basic item.  And you need the A/V cable ($19) to watch movies/photos on your TV.  You’ll probably need some kind of case too so the clay plastic doesn’t scratch and hide the color screen, and the included bag is just a stupid piece of cloth.  So there goes $90+ of added cost to get most of what the iPod is capable of.  The remote is another $29, though not exactly a basic accessory.

So if your idea of basic is just whatever is in the box, then you should be happy.  But start adding essentials like a power adapter, and you could end up paying 25% of the cost of the iPod alone just to use it the way it’s advertized too. 

What’s ridiculous is that some of these accessories used to be included with the iPod.  So while technology advances and therefore prices remain the same (meaning, today’s color LCD and 30GB hard drive costs the same as last year’s b/w LCD and 20GB hard drive, Apple is leaving more and more out of the box so you get less for your money.

Posted by Taphil on October 13, 2005 at 5:44 PM (CDT)

19

ive passed on the accessories..i only get the importnant things that I need..like maybe a wristband, and a case..and thats about it..i mean i would like to get some speakers, and when i start driving i would like to get the car adapter..but thats where i draw the line. But i do think the prices are sometime alittle to much.

Posted by DoSoMeThiN' on October 15, 2005 at 6:15 PM (CDT)

20

No one should be surprised by Apples pricing models, they have always been that way, can anyone say Imac. Part of the problem is within the popularity of the device, I often see major retailers discounting other portable music player accessories. Not so much any of the iPod branded stuff. What is apparent is that the manufactures know they have a large market and can achieve a premium price for thier goods. Apple and manufactures run the risk of watering down the brand with discounted items and sales. Apple has always been about their branding and is extremely good at it. Back to Imac, there was nothing revolutionary about it; yes an all in one unit which was already done in the 80’s with the TRS80. Some of you will know what I’m speaking of. Nothing revolutionary but well branded, and well marketed. Does anyone remember when you couldn’t get Bondi blue. Mp3 players were around before iPod but Apple can, as I said, brand like nobody. And accessories were no different then or now. A recent article in the paper wrote about “Would you pay 350 dollars for a case?” Gucci, Juicy, LV, all make cases for Ipod. Apple has their cake, and the accessories are the frosting, you just have to decide what kind of decoration you are. I have an old Coach Leather case that I used to put my now long gone Palm Pilot. I found it in the back of the closet and low and behold my 20g fit, go figure. I also have the skin I bought on that clearing house of iPod stuff Ebay. It wasn’t as nice as some of the ones I’ve seen in the Apple store but it’s pretty good. And it was $12.00 with shipping and the hard plastic screen cover came with. So it’s all in your perception of value per dollar. I knew when I got an iPod that I was paying a premium for an Mp3 player. I toyed with Dell’s unit and decided based on the fact that the iPod over all other brands, had the most third party accessory support of any other player on the market, Iriver second, but not even close. I wanted to have lots of choices when it came to add-ons. Heck, in all this no one mentioned the ultimate add-on. A car!! Mini in your mini. Maybe I should get the Coach Edition Lexus. But alas I’ll just listen to my iPod in its $12 dollar skin connected to a $4 dollar cable from Radio Shack to the back of my aux port on my stereo in my used truck. And with the spare change I’ll stop at the store and buy a Hostess cupcake and a Chug-A-Milk.

Posted by geocamp on October 16, 2005 at 11:03 PM (CDT)

21

IMHO, it all goes back to the simple laws of supply & demand that we learned in high school.  If they buy it, the price will continue to creep up because it can.  And manufactures aren’t stupid; competitive companies will start under cutting each other - eventually the bubble will burst and the prices will start to fall again.  They are all out to strike while the iron is hot. 

I read many comments here about how the accessories that use to be the ‘norm’ when purchasing an iPod are getting fewer and fewer. I see it as more of a case of actually giving the customer what it wants; above all else, lower prices.
As an example: from what I understand, iPods use to come with a complimentary case. How many people actually used it vs. how many purchased something better?  If Apple discovered that a high percentage of people were just putting that case in their sock drawer, then why continue giving it away?  Why not drop the initial purchase price of the iPod (or, keep it the same without an increase), omit the case & allow the consumer to purchase what they want.
Another case in point: I purchased my 4G/60gb iPod at the end of Sept (ya; 12 days later the Video came out, but I’m ok), it came with the AC adaptor, now the 5G/Video doesn’t.  For me, they can keep their case, I want the wall wart!  But, apparently, most people charge their iPods via USB, so why not keep the price the same, omit the connector and let the consumer decide what they want/need.

With technology constantly changing, give it a couple months, the iPod you have will be “out dated” (hard to believe an iPod that’s only been out 5 months is outdated! LOL)& suddenly prices will come down for your particular unit & you will be able to purchase all those extra goodies you want for your iPod & save enough money for a month worth of latte’s at Starbucks =)

Posted by MilrGirl on November 20, 2005 at 2:57 AM (CST)

22

One thing I don’t understand. Most people agree that no case enhances the look of an iPod. Why can’t Apple make the iPod scratch resistant? I’ve had the Epson P-2000 media player with 3.8” screen - no scratch whatsoever (with rough use). Not to mention my Omega watch for the last 11 years no scratch on the glass.

A device that costs $300-$400 and get scratches from your finger touch? Give me a break. The fact that Apple is getting away with it is pathetic. Not to mention no built-in FM tuner, no built-in mic etc. etc.

I also agree that iPod is no longer a novelty, especially if you live in NY city. It is almost a liability by now. When I get on the subway and I see all those ‘yuppie pretends’ that spent their bottom Dollars to get an iPod, just to look like everyone else on the train, I start feeling sorry for them and lately I am even reluctant to listen to my own iPod under those circumstances. I think iPod nears its life’s end.

I really can’t wait for Sony to wipe out the iPod dominance from the face of the earth. I’ll be the first one to switch (after having had 5 iPods).

Posted by nyalien in New York on December 16, 2005 at 10:43 AM (CST)

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