The company's first major iPod accessory was launched in 2003. Called the iTrip, it was an FM transmitter allowing users to play their iPod music through a car radio. The company currently makes cases, chargers, speaker systems and headphones for the iPod and iPhone., accounting for some 90 percent of the Griffin technologu's business.
The iPhone in particular pushed Griffin into territory it would not have otherwise visited.
"The iPhone kind of bridged the gap between iPod and cellphones. We just went right over that bridge and moved into the cellular market as well. So now we are working directly with AT&T and all the international carriers of the iPhone, and before we never would have been partners with them," says Ballinger.
Big, brand-name companies have also tapped into the business model. France-based luxury goods maker LVMH, for instance, sells a carrying case for the iPhone.
And what's good for companies like Griffin and Contour is good for Apple, says Baker.
Apple not only benefits by selling those products through its stores and website, it receives the equivalent of a licensing fee from accessory makers who play off of Apple's proprietary technology and design.
In addition, the connectors for the iPhone and iPod are proprietary, and accessory makers must pay a fee to be able to use those connectors on products such as chargers and speaker docs.
Though Contour and Griffin would not disclose terms of their business relationship with Apple and Apple itself does not break out accessory revenue, its quarterly income statement gives some idea about the size of the business.
For the third quarter of 2008, for instance, "music-related products and services," which consist of iTunes Store sales, iPod services and Apple-branded and third-party iPod accessories, generated $819 million in revenue. IPhone handset sales, carrier agreements, and Apple-branded and third-party iPhone accessories brought in $419 million in sales.
If that weren't enough, the accessories business has another virtue, given Apple's unusually trendy, fashion conscious clientele.
It "makes their products more interesting," says Baker.