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With No iPhone 3G To Sell, Retailers Look To Accessories

New York — As block-long lines for the new iPhone 3G continued throughout the morning, consumer electronics retailers, who as a class are not permitted to sell the iPhone, are turning their attention to selling new accessories.

J&R Music & Computer World, based here, said it is waiting for cases and accessories for the newest iPhone.

Datavision, also based here, said it hired people to distribute leaflets to the diehards waiting on line at Apple and AT&T stores today. The leaflets offered a 20 percent discount on iPhone accessories through Datavision.

Sixth Avenue Electronics also said it was heavily promoting iPhone accessories this weekend.

Many retailers remain frustrated that they are unable to sell one of the hottest consumer electronics products of the year, despite the fact that some are major Apple retailers and some also sell AT&T phones. 

But CE retailers may be at a disadvantage even in selling iPhone accessories. Yankee Group senior analyst Josh Martin noted, “The challenge is that a lot of the accessory purchases happen when you first buy the phone.”

Total sales of iPhone accessories were not available, but ezGear president Charlie Bernstein said case sales for the iPhone are significantly less than those for an iPod, as cellphone customers are simply not as interested in a protective case. Although the company is already sold out of its first shipment of cases for the iPhone 3G, Bernstein said, “If this were a new iPod, I’d have four times the orders.”

ezGear, which said it is in among the top 10 suppliers of cases for the iPhone and iPod, said its sales for the original iPhone were 225,000 units.

One docking-speaker supplier estimated only 100,000 speakers for the iPhone sold thus far, as Apple has stricter requirements for receiving “Made for iPhone” approval than it does for the iPod.

Accessory maker Sonic Impact estimated the iPhone and iPhone 3G would attract an accessories attachment rate of 10 percent. Apple sold 6 million of its original iPhones and is expected to sell more than 6.3 million iPhones in total in the United States by the end of the year, according to iSuppli.

The iPhone 3G went on sale today at 8 a.m. in AT&T and Apple stores in more than 20 countries. Apple also launched a new Apple Apps store with more than 500 applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch.