Friday, September 09, 2005
iPod/ clothes/ cars
Clothing makers latch on to iPod craze
Reuters.com | Thu Sep 8, 2005 3:43 PM ET9
By Alexandria Sage and Michael Kahn
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - With no end in sight to the iPod craze, everyday clothing makers are offering a growing selection of apparel designed so consumers can easily carry their digital music players without getting their wires tangled.
For years, sports apparel manufacturers and haute couture brands have sold Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) iPod-friendly products, but now mainstream clothing manufacturers are hoping to cash in on the trend.
Los Angeles-based manufacturer Kenpo, for example, made a big push at the Magic Marketplace fashion trade show in Las Vegas last week as it showcased a line of light- and heavier-weight outdoor jackets with the iPod control on the outside sleeve.
Kenpo, which has a license with Apple, offers its jackets with a fabric insert and a built-in chip so that consumers can change the controls of their iPods on the outside of the garment's sleeve while the music player is tucked safely away inside.
A men's anorak and a polar-fleece and nylon jacket in black and stainless steel will be first available at Macy's stores in San Francisco in November for prices ranging from $275 to
The jackets are only compatible with iPod, but Kenpo says it may eventually offer clothing that functions with other MP3 players and electronic gadgets in an increasingly tech-driven world.
Kenpo Vice President Joel Bernstein said buyers visiting the company's booth at the trade show were initially confused by the jackets -- until they realized the potential marriage between mainstream fashion and technology.
"If you're going to start anywhere, you start with the iPod," Bernstein said.
That's logical, considering Apple says it has sold more than 21 million iPods, and industry analysts estimate the brand accounts for about three-quarters of all digital music players sold in the United States this year.
There are also more than 1,000 accessories made specifically for the iPod, ranging from high-end fashion cases to speaker systems to automobile integration kits.
The initial buzz surrounding iPod's 2001 launch spurred haute couture fashion houses like Christian Dior, Chanel and others to create luxury cases for the player. Germany's Karl Lagerfeld designed for Fendi a $1,500 gilded carrying case for multiple iPods. Gucci offered a more modest $200 leather-trimmed sling.
Two years ago, Burton Snowboards unveiled what it called the first waterproof snowboarding jacket compatible with the iPod.
But now mainstream clothing companies are looking to exploit iPod's popularity.
Scott Jordan, chief executive of Ketchum, Idaho-based Scottevest Inc. has designed what he calls a "technology-enabled" casual clothing line -- from lambskin leather jackets to cargo pants and cotton hoodies -- with strategically placed holes and fabric channels to keep wires out of sight and out of mind.
"We are grabbing on the coattails of the success of the iPod generation," Jordan said.
The iPod's popularity has also encouraged others to tie their products to the music players. San Diego-based H20audio, for example, sells waterproof iPod cases and headsets retailing for $149.95 and related accessories like armbands and swim belts.
The products are safe in up to 4 meters (13.2 feet) of water, including hot tubs, pools, the surf and snow, said spokesman Tom Harvey, who added that Apple was supporting and encouraging outside vendors.
And with iPods turning from trendy fashion accessories to a must-have everyday item, companies say shoppers want clothing that meets their technology needs.
"People are really getting it -- finally," Scottevest's Jordan said.
Reuters.com | IPods in cars raise questions for satellite radio | Wed Sep 7, 2005 8:25 PM ET13
By Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Apple Computer (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) on Wednesday outlined plans to expand its iPod music players into cars, raising some concerns that the dominant digital music company could sap growing demand for satellite radio.
Apple, which previously joined forces with BMW, said it has teamed with Acura, Audi (NSUG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), Honda Motor Co.(7267.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and Volkswagen (VOWG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) to integrate iPod products into their car stereos for 2006 model lines.
Apple expects more than 5 million vehicles will ship with iPod support in the United States in 2006.
The automotive industry is deemed fertile ground for the booming consumer electronics market.
Some analysts estimate that by 2011, the market for in-vehicle entertainment systems will be worth $56 billion across North America, Europe and Japan.
One of the chief beneficiaries of that trend has been satellite radio, and analysts were divided over whether Apple and the upscale radio companies would fight for consumer dollars or peacefully coexist.
No. 1 satellite provider XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. (XMSR.O: Quote, Profile, Research) said there was no threat.
"These are two very different offerings, both of which have been embraced by millions of consumers," said Chance Patterson, a spokesman XM, which is available in GM, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, and Volkswagen/Audi automobiles.
About half of XM's 4.4 million subscribers are from car-based systems.
"XM is unique because we have hundreds of programmers delivering millions of songs plus live news, live sports and talk directly to subscribers," Patterson said.
XM rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc (SIRI.O: Quote, Profile, Research) declined to comment.
Drivers have already been listening to iPods in cars, chiefly using tiny transmitters that plug into iPod earphone jacks and broadcast songs to the car FM radio, at lower quality than heard over an iPod itself, said American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu.
Some cars have a line-in port, like a home stereo, that can take an iPod input.
Apple laid out plans that would allow users to more easily control their iPods. Kits, estimated to cost anywhere from $150 to $400, would require professional installation and connect iPods through docking ports in cars, Wu said.
PRICE IS KEY
Price may be the key to the potential battle.
"If the iPod feature is cheaper and allows you to download music you already own, some car buyers might decide they're not going to take satellite radio," said Gordon Wangers, chief executive officer of AMCI, a Marina Del Rey, California-based auto marketing consulting company.
But others said it was hard to tell which product was priced lower. "At this point, which function is cheaper is unclear. When GM offers XM, it's included in an audio package, with 6 speakers and a CD changer. In other cases, you might see it offered in cars for $300 or less," said April Horace, an analyst with Hoefer Arnett.
"It could be a slight threat to satellite radio but I would expect they'll coexist," said Kit Spring, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus and Co, noting that listening to a radio is a more passive activity than using an iPod and that radio has live content.