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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Accessories Market Is Expanding for Samsung Phones

Here’s a sign that Samsung Electronics continues to rise as a challenger to Apple in the handset market: the proliferation of third-party accessories supporting its Galaxy phones.

Incase, a popular case maker in San Francisco, on Thursday started selling its first protective cases for the new Galaxy S4 phone, adding to the hundreds of thousands of accessories in the market made for Samsung products. Before, it had sold a case for the earlier model, the Galaxy S3.

Various accessory makers like Mophie, OtterBox, Tech Armor and Aduro also sell gear for Samsung phones. A quick search in Amazon.com’s cellphone accessories category for “Samsung Galaxy accessories” turns up over 537,000 results. A search for “iPhone accessories” turns up about 1 million results.  By contrast, a search for “Lumia accessories” â€" products made for Nokia’s less-popular Windows phones â€" gets about 52,000 results.

A similar search on BestBuy.com turns up about 2,200 results for “iPhone accessories,” about 1,600 results for “Samsung Galaxy accessories” and 51 results for “Lumia accessories.”

These are hardly scientific surveys. But they give an idea of just how big a rival the Samsung Galaxy phones have become â€" not just in terms of sales, but also in terms of the number of third-party companies backing them.

Why care about support from accessory makers? If consumers buy extras for their phones, they’re likely to keep buying phones from the same company so they can keep using those accessories. Accessory makers must be confident in Samsung’s products in order to be devoting manufacturing for them.

It used to be the case that “case maker” was synonymous with “iPhone case maker.” But as Nick Wingfield and I reported this week, the accessories market has substantially broadened to support devices other than Apple’s.