Study: Smartphone Extras Driving Sales

ABI Research finds a sector in the smartphone sector bubbling along with a craze to personalize.
Who knew? It's not just the smartphone category that is the hot-ticket item driving mobile phone sales. The geegaws, doo-dads and other accessories sold separately for those phones are doing some driving, too.

That's the conclusion of a study by ABI Research. The New York-based research firm said the market for mobile phone accessories will generate over $32 billion in revenues in 2007. That's more than the $28 billion expected from the smartphone market alone.

So where's the bulk of the sales coming from? The research firm said roughly 77 percent of those revenues will come from the sales of "after-market" mobile phone accessories and the remaining from "in-box" accessories shipments.

Shailendra Pandey, the analyst who wrote the report, noted that the number of mobile phone accessories is growing, thanks to new customer technology, fashion and personalization needs.

"Handset vendors and mobile operators are showing greater interest as accessories provide high margins and also opportunities to promote their brand and expand their product offerings," Pandey said in a statement.

"The growing interest among mobile operators is also driven by the realization that mobile phone accessories can lead to higher ARPUs."

It's all about increasing those margins, ABI Research found.

"Handset vendors now recognize that to increase sales of their high-end mobile phones and smartphones, they need to provide accessories that allow users to fully enjoy and benefit from the features provided in those handsets."

The signs are legion. Take Nokia, the world's largest phone maker. Its marketing approach is to set itself apart with a line of "mobile enhancement" products, such as headsets for Bluetooth (define) connectivity, cases, "easy mount" attachments for hands-free phones in cars, and GPS-enabling extras.

Motorola, which recently unveiled an updated line of smartphones and mobile devices, is taking the "self-expression" route with its marketing approach.

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