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The Next Big Wave in iPhone Accessories

Generally speaking, I buy accessories for my mobile devices either to protect them, or to improve their usability. For the iPhone (s aapl), that’s led to a number of different case purchases (same with the iPad, incidentally). Now I find myself searching for a new kind of supplementary hardware, and I’m not alone.

I’m talking about accessories that extend my iPhone’s video capabilities. The iPhone 4 shoots HD video, as does the latest generation iPod touch.  But that’s only half the story. The other half is FaceTime, which just got a major user boost thanks to the introduction of an app for Macs.

The Demand is Here

The success of startup efforts like the Kickstarter-backed Glif, which is a universal tripod mounting bracket for the iPhone 4, shows that people desperately want good solutions when it comes to taking advantage of the iPhone’s improved photographic and video capabilities.
Thomas Gerhardt and Dan Provost, the creators of the Glif, exceeded their Kickstarter goal of $10,000 early on in the funding, and now have more than 12 times that amount pledged. If you pledge $20 before Nov. 2, you get a Glif when it goes into active production, so if you’re looking for a tripod mount for your device, it’s an affordable solution.

Major Players are Missing the Boat

Joby is a good example of a company missing the boat by not providing an updated solution specifically for Apple’s latest devices. The Gorillamobile for iPhone 3G/3GS was great, and anticipated the curve, but now when it stands to gain the most, the accessory maker is behind. Even experienced players are slow to react with this latest opportunity to capitalize on Apple’s success.

What Will Succeed

Users will want a flexible mounting solution that lets them use FaceTime on the move, at home, wherever they happen to be. This could mean cases with integrated stands and clips, something which will be popular with the crowd that prefers an all-in-one solution. I’ve just received the Marware SportShell Convertible for iPhone 4, which is a worthy successor to the version for the 3GS, the only case I ever used for any length of time. Right on the package it touts the clip/stand as the perfect FaceTime solution.

FaceTime Is a Long-Term Play

Once the iPad joins the list of devices with FaceTime support, the service will gain even more traction. Video calling will have a slow adoption curve among consumers because it’s so different from what we’re used to. Text messaging adoption in the U.S. was the same way (check out the very bottom of this Mashable infographic). Most new communication technologies are initially greeted with skepticism.

Video is the future of mobile, and that means recording, watching and communicating in that medium. Accessories that anticipate that future will have the most lasting power in the mobile economy. Let’s see iPhone cases that clip to monitors, tabletop tripods and flexible stands, and some accessories that take advantage of the dock port to provide external mics for video recording or live previews to external monitors. Demand is there; it just hasn’t found its voice yet.

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