By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The exploding market for portable electronics has not only fueled growth in batteries and chargers, but has also spawned a new category of portable power or extended power products, which enable the use of depleted cellphones, MP3 players and other devices even when users are not near a car or wall outlet.
That category will continue to blossom in 2007, as new introductions expand the assortment of products available to consumers on the go.
"As the demand for portable electronic devices increases, so will the demand for their power supplies and chargers," said Jessie Revlin, marketing and conventional sales director for Battery-Biz. "People don't want to have to stop what they're doing to recharge their phone, PDA, iPod or other gadget. Therefore, people actively search out and purchase extended power supplies."
To meet that need, Battery-Biz has introduced the Power family of Duracell branded iPod accessories, including the flagship PowerFM, an extended battery to double the iPod's runtime, plus FM transmitter and protective silicone case. The PowerFM incorporates a rechargeable lithium ion battery that powers the iPod and recharges its internal battery simultaneously. It retails for $79.99.
Similarly, the Power3 is an extended battery that triples the runtime of the iPod, according to Revlin, and retails for $59.99. A first-generation Nano PowerFM and Power3 were launched in December, and the company's second generation Nano and Video models of the PowerFM and Power3 will be available this month.
Xantrex's newest portable power product for the CE market is the Powersource Mobile Mini, a portable battery pack designed to recharge an iPod, BlackBerry or other devices on the go. It holds about 11 watt-hours of power in a lithium-polymer battery, providing multiple recharges for a device. It also features a pivoting mini USB arm that allows users to connect and charge Moto Razrs and BlackBerrys without the need for a charging cable.
"Sales are definitely trending upward for us as the portable electronics space continues to explode with new, innovative, convergent products," said Grant Dunbar, product manager. "There really is still a power gap between the OEM battery supplied with an iPod, BlackBerry, or PSP and what a user's expectation or demand is. So we see our various power solutions being adopted relatively quickly to bridge that gap."
A number of other companies are also introducing new portable power products for 2007. Among them are:
Mobility Electronics is introducing the iGo powerXtender, a battery-operated adapter that uses two AA batteries to power and charge most low-power devices, including most major mobile phones, Bluetooth headsets, smartphones, MP3 players and more. It features a small, lightweight design and uses patented interchangeable tips that automatically configure to ensure that each device gets the precise amount of power it requires.
Energizer is adding to its Energi To Go line of instant cellphone chargers with models compatible with Treo and LG. The devices, powered by two Energizer e2 lithium AA batteries, will be available in the first quarter.
Sony will launch an Energy Link charger that functions as a NiMH battery charger and a USB device power supply. It will have broader functionality than current similar products available, according to the company, and will be available in the second quarter.
Battery Technology (BTI) is developing a USB travel charger/battery combo unit for availability in February. It will be able to charge cellphones, PDAs, MP3s and other handheld devices that have a USB charging option, as well as provide up to an additional 12 hours of battery runtime. While the unit is charging the mobile device, it is also recharging its own battery so users will have backup power when needed. Estimated retail price will be between $39.95 and $49.95.
DigiPower is unveiling an extended battery pack called the USB 34, which incorporates a 3,400mAh lithium-polymer battery that can power an iPod or any USB-powered portable device, including BlackBerry, RAZR series and some digital cameras. It features LED lights that show the power use, and will be available this month at approximately $39.
North American Battery (NABC), now a subsidiary of Uniross, will debut a line of four pocket-sized products that allow consumers to remotely charge an MP3, cellphone or other portable electric device. The power products, which will be sold under the UltraLast brand, will run on AA batteries, and will ship during the second quarter at a suggested retail of $9.99.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.