Two thirds of mobile accessories sold through retail stores

According to a recent study from ABI Research, 66% of revenues earned from mobile handset accessories are generated in the aftermarket. This percentage is only expected to grow with time, following a market trend to move more and more accessories ‘out of the box’ and onto retailers’ shelves.

Commented industry analyst Michael Morgan: “Mobile operators and mobile phone vendors see that the only return from including a subsidised accessory included in the handset box is customer satisfaction. While that isn’t without some intangible value, on the retail shelf an accessory is a high margin product that will generate actual income.”

The currently most popular aftermarket accessories are memory cards and protective silicone carrying cases or sleeves. Both result from the popularity of smartphones: their multimedia capabilities often demand extra memory capacity, and their high value encourages owners to take better care of them. This latter trend has clearly been initiated and driven by Apple’s iPhone, said Morgan.

Protection takes on even greater importance in some emerging markets, where most owners intend to resell their phones when they upgrade. Other regional factors in the accessories market are culturally determined, stated Morgan: “While the belt clip style of handset ‘holster’, for example, is popular in North American and Western European markets, Asian consumers tend to prefer wrist- and neck-straps which provide greater visibility for the phones of the fashion-conscious, at lower cost.”

Fast growing accessory groups include Bluetooth headsets and wired headsets for music listening, while others such as add-on GPS receivers are in decline as their functions are progressively moved into the handset itself.