Apple shuns CES but accessories a hit

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The Independent Tech

Apple snubbed the big Consumer Electronics Show here but vendors of accessories for its hot devices turned out in force.

Dozens of manufacturers of covers, stands, headsets, speakers and other items for the iPad, iPod and iPhone crammed an "iLounge" on the Las Vegas Conventer Center floor dedicated solely to Apple accessories.

Scott Sternick, owner of a sports bars in New York's Hell's Kitchen, was selling perhaps the simplest product in the entire show - a strap with a suction cup on the end for carrying an iPhone or iPad around your neck.

"It's old school for the new school," Sternick said.

He said he came up with the idea for the "iTatch," which costs between $10 and $15 depending on the length, about a year ago and would give them out in his bar.

"People who used it liked it," Sternick said.

So he ordered the powerful suction cups for the iTatch - which stands for "innovation, design and technology" - from a supplier in Pennsylvania and the lanyards from another in Colorado.

"And then I thought 'We're going to show this to the world,'" he said.

And there's not better place to do that then the annual four-day gadget extravaganza in Las Vegas, which ended Sunday after attracting over 140,000 visitors from around the world and 2,700 exhibitors.

Next to Sternick's booth was another selling a $39 cover for the iPad that resembles the iconic childhood favorite the Etch A Sketch.

It fits around the iPad and features the same red plastic frame, pair of white buttons and even the brand name "Etch A Sketch," which the manufacturer, Headcase, uses under license.

"It turns heads every time I get it out," said John Mizell, a Headcase employee. "All generations, from seniors to teens, are interested in this."

Headcase also makes a black rubber stand for the iPad but hasn't yet branched out into making products for other touchscreen tablet computers hitting the market, more than 80 of which were unveiled at CES this year.

"It depends on what tablet gains ground," Mizell said. "We're still waiting. For the moment it's just the iPad."

Another vendor, George Korper, enjoyed such success at CES last year with his unusual "TV Hat" for private viewing of video from an iPhone or iPod Touch that he decided to come back again this year.

The TV Hat, which costs $30, resembles a standard baseball cap but has an abnormally large bill with cloth drapes hanging off it for privacy and a built-in magnifying lens.

Korper said the TV Hat was ideal for "when there are movies you want to watch on the plane."

His wife likes it, he said. "I use it in bed. I can watch Netflix without bothering her."

Companies like iTatch, Headcase and TV Hat are just some of the players in what is a big business.

According to ABI Research, mobile phone accessories alone are expected to generate more than $35 billion in revenue this year and rise to more than $50 billion in 2015.

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