Our big Monday announcement

We originally created Backstage in part as a place to provide advance looks at new iLounge developments, but we’ve been quiet on that for a while. Today’s an exception.

On Monday, we’re going to be announcing a major but positive shift in the focus of our product reviews. We’ve been discussing some of the core ideas internally for a while, but our recent visits to CES and Macworld in San Francisco convinced us that change – big change – is necessary, right now.

The problem can be summed up like this: the iPod accessory market is currently being flooded with crap.

Eight months or so ago, it became obvious to anyone with a pulse that the iPod was only going to keep on growing in popularity, and that there was a lot of money to be made in selling accessories. To capitalize on the iPod’s success, a number of overseas manufacturers began to mass-manufacture and commoditize everything from cases to cables, then moved to car and wall chargers, batteries and Bluetooth accessories. Most recently, the same companies have started to develop docks and speaker systems. As a consequence, the influx of me-too iPod accessories has become literally overwhelming. Apple announced in September that there were then over 1,000 iPod accessories available.

Yesterday – four months later – the company said the number is now over 2,000.

There’s good and bad in this. The good: there’s a lot of competition, and simple iPod accessories can become very affordable. The bad: anyone who wants to become an “iPod accessory company” can do so virtually overnight, and consumers are today confronted by hundreds of choices, many of them poor. Even good iPod accessory manufacturers have acknowledged, in so many words, that the climate is now “buyer beware.” You, the reader, are the buyer.