Though the iPod revolution began at Apple Computer’s headquarters in California, companies all across the world have developed successful businesses around the most popular digital music player. Even in Japan – once home field for Sony’s Walkmen and MiniDiscs – people and companies alike have shifted their attention to the iPod, popularizing unique accessories that range from fascinating to bizarre. In this pictorial feature, we take a look at some of the more interesting items that Japanese companies have developed.
The Die Speaker: Named for its resemblance to one of a pair of two dice, the Die Speaker (3980 yen, approx. US$36) is a small metal cube with a top plug for the iPod shuffle’s headphone port. Your shuffle goes on to it upside down, and music comes out of the Die’s left and right sides. A white version is also available. Click here for more information.
EZISON Speaker Systems: The first of two EZISON speaker sets we saw – “EZISON10 digital powered speakers” (19950 yen, approx. US$179) – is a retro-looking black and silver box that runs off of wall or three AA-battery power. There’s space for a full-sized iPod in the center, and a set of sizer pads to keep thinner iPods from bouncing around. A red light on top indicates power; rubber pads on the back and bottom let this model stand up straight or lay on its back. Click here for more information.
The second EZISON system (TE2, 13650 yen, approx. US$122), in iPod-matching white, is even slicker than the first in appearance. Small touches of chrome in the center of its speakers are barely visible from the outside. And TE2 doesn’t require either battery or wall power: its speakers are passive, running only off of the iPod’s juice. A hole in the bottom for a Dock Connector plug lets you keep the iPod running while inside. A version called EZISON2 Plus includes a battery pack at a higher price. Click here for more information.
Prie Hook: Tunewear released Prie Hook some time ago, but these cooler new versions (6279 yen, $54.95 US) use Python snakeskin, crocodile and leather patterns to dress up their predecessors’ plain leather appearance. While garish to some Western audiences, these patterns meet the needs of domestic Japanese consumers. Click here for more information.
The iPod Pillow: Amusing by any standard, this blue cotton pillowcase (5880 yen, approx. US$53) includes pockets for an included passively powered metal speaker unit and an iPod of virtually any size. If you’ve ever wanted to sleep with your iPod – ahem – but haven’t wanted to wear headphones, you might see the appeal of the iPod Pillow. The speakers are sold separately for 3980 yen (approx. $36). Click here for more information.
Poco Cases: We’ve already reviewed the iPod mini version of Poco, but the full-sized Poco (3780 yen, approx. US$34) and shuffle cases (2730 yen, approx. US$25) are new to iLounge. The shuffle version includes a useful rear Velcro strap and a metal loop for use with a keychain, separate lanyard, or bag. Click here for more information.
Paper Sho by Shoshu Cases: The first mass-manufactured cardboard cases we’ve seen for any iPod are the Sho by Shoshu cases for the iPod shuffle (1575 yen per three, approx. US$14). With ink-like patterns and undersized front and top holes for the iPod shuffle’s key access points, the cases look unique but aren’t really intended for long-term use. They come in sets of three, along with a paper pattern that shows you how to make your own case. Click here for more information.
Tocca Suono Cases: These fashion cases with Italian names combine wallet-like sensibilities with clear vinyl iPod and iPod mini coverage; a denim bodied version (4830 yen, approx. US$43) is also available. A separate design for the iPod shuffle is smaller and sleeker, lacking the wallet-style features but preserving similar fashion. The shuffle Suono includes a small caribineer on the top. Click here for more information.
Swing Shuffle Case: This wallet-like iPod shuffle case (3980 yen, approx. US$35) includes separate pockets for the shuffle and its headphones, then seals closed to form a ballistic nylon shield. A small leather and Velcro clip on the back lets you attach the Swing to a belt or bag strap. Click here for more information.
Tunewear Clothing: Combining Japanese clothing designs with transparent iPod-friendly pockets, Tunewear’s new line of teenagers’ clothing (4800-9800 yen, approx. US$43-88) ranges from boy’s shirts with conspicuous outside iPod pockets to girl’s shirts and tank tops with interior iPod pockets. Each shirt includes one of Tunewear’s clear plastic cord winding Tuneclip attachments for headphone management. Click here for more information.
Bird Shuffle T-Shirt: This iPod shuffle-ready T-shirt from Bird (3780 yen, approx. US$34) features the phrase “This is our music, Bird Electron artwork by Shoshu.” It matches the designs of the company’s cardboard Sho from Shoshu cases. Click here for more information.