The iPhone Opportunity: Selling Accessories Could Boost Printing and Profits

The iPhone Opportunity: Selling Accessories Could Boost Printing and Profits


Apple’s iPhone never has been just a phone, and it’s increasingly becoming the camera of choice for casual and amateur photographers capturing quick snapshots and video clips. In fact, iPhoneography, as this form of mobile photography has become known, has grown rapidly since the iPhone was introduced with just a 2 megapixel camera in 2007.

As the iPhone’s camera has improved, even some pro photographers have tested the waters. And a whole iPhoneography community has developed, with photo contests popping up here, there and everywhere.

All of this leads to two separate opportunities for photo retailers. The accessory aftermarket to enhance the iPhone’s built-in camera includes a litany of products that create new opportunities for retail sales. Just take a look at the success of Photojojo, the online retailer whose offerings include a myriad of accessories for the iPhone. And the range of these photo-centric accessories is not only growing in choice but also in complexity, making them attractive options for photo retailers who specialize in educating their customers.

The second opportunity is created by the fact that these accessories work to improve the quality of pictures taken by the iPhone—photos that iPhoneographers can do more with than just share online. These are printable images that can be used to create a wide selection of creative photo items.

From lenses to tripods and beyond, iPhone camera accessories make up a varied and seemingly unlimited category. Here are some of the coolest we’ve seen.

Hitcase Pro for iPhone 4/4S
This is a waterproof and ruggedized casing for the iPhone that features a wide-angle lens and a mounting system. The case itself is designed specifically for the iPhone 4 and 4S, and it’s lined inside with “Shockseal,” an airtight cushion that keeps the phone nestled in place.

This makes the Hitcase Pro shockproof and submersible up to 16 feet. The “Railslide” mounting system includes a GoPro-compatible mount with auto-locking and one-button trigger release. TRipod and StickR are universal mounts that make it possible to place the Hitcase almost anywhere. And the free Hitcase iOS app, Vidometer, overlays speed, G-force and altitude on top of recorded footage.

Joby GripTight GorillaPod Stand
With the standard tentacle legs Joby is known for, the GripTight GorillaPod stand offers the flexibility to snap photos and video from anywhere the stand can be propped up or wrapped around. The adjustable grip fastens onto the standard ¼–20-inch screw, and it can fit any version of the iPhone—as well as most other smartphones.

This helps when using the stand with an encased iPhone or an attachable lens. Or both. The rubberized grip pads and steel springs are tough and sturdy enough to hold the device in place no matter what angle a photographer wants to shoot from.

Think of this as a monopod with a twist—literally. The iVideoStick is a lightweight mobile camera pod with a curve that makes it easier to shoot at different angles than it would be with a 90º one. The safety leash and two handles enable multiple methods in shooting, be it an active shot from above or from a ground-level angle to capture unique bottom-up footage.

The pod is designed to work with a wide range of smartphones, though not necessarily the ones with very large displays. The adjustable cradle easily fits all iPhone and iPod Touch models. $49.99–$69.99. 

alm Pro Lens Pack with mCAMLITE for iPhone 5
With an aluminum body on the outside and a silicone case that fits the iPhone 5, the Pro Lens pack offers durability and precision for Apple’s newest handset. The key is in the versatility that comes with the other elements that complete the package. Photographers can choose to shoot alone, or use the 37mm wide-angle/macro combo lens for better shots.

The 180º external mic boosts the sound quality of video recordings, while mounting options abound. There are three ¼–20-inch screws at the bottom of the body, and one on top, making it possible to attach a cold shoe, if needed. $194.95.  

Lifeproof fre for iPhone 5

This case is one of the closest accessories a photo enthusiast can get to the equivalent of a waterproof, shockproof, snowproof and dustproof point-and-shoot camera. Slimmer and lighter than the case made for the iPhone 4/4S, the added protection from the elements makes it possible to shoot underwater, at the pool, on the slopes and in the rain.

The back of the case has carefully carved holes for both the lens and LED flash. Airtight gaskets cover the crevices, headphone jack and Lightning port to ensure sand and dust don’t get in. $79.99.

iPhone Swivl
This device tracks movement via a sensor while the iPhone shoots smooth panning video. It tilts up and down and rotates 360º. The Swivl knows what you want to film by tracking an easy to wear and supercompact 3-in-1 sensor. This triple duty gadget acts as a motion sensor, a microphone and a remote for fine-tuned Swivl control. It can be mounted on a tripod for ultra-smooth panning, and it can be used with or without the free companion app for iPhone 4/4S, which lets users customize the panning speed. $179.

iPhone Telephoto Lens
This lens gives the iPhone’s camera telephoto powers from 8x–12x. Each lens comes with a matte black iPhone case that users twist the lens onto. To compose a shot, they twist the grip on the lens’s manual focus ring to make it sharp. When the lens isn’t being used, the case can still be left on the phone. Each telephoto lens comes with a phone case, a mini-tripod and a cleaning cloth. The telephone lens kit comes in versions for the iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5. $35.

The olloclip has been a standout as a utilitarian lens for the iPhone 4/4S by offering a 3-in-1 lens system that includes a wide-angle, macro and fisheye lens. Sliding onto the corner and overtop the phone’s rear camera, the lens is agnostic to all photography apps that could capture photos. 

With the change in form factor from the 4/4S to the iPhone 5, olloclip will bring a new lens design to market to accommodate the thinner profile. Some handy tech users have chosen instead to modify the original olloclip to fit the iPhone 5 by using different methods to hold it in place.

The olloclip’s macro lens applies a 10x multiplier and allows the iPhone to focus within 12–15mm of the subject. Concealed within the olloclip, the macro lens is accessed by unscrewing the wide-angle lens that’s normally attached to it. The fisheye lens captures a 180º field of view, and the wide-angle lens is great for when that extra field of view is needed, approximately double that of the normal iPhone. $69.99.

iStabilizer Dolly

The Dolly is essentially a miniaturized version of a director shooting cinematic panning scenes with a motion picture camera on a track. It is a flexible roller for tracking shots, time-lapse shooting, artistic work and capturing travel videos. Its large wheels provide smooth movement, and an 11-inch adjustable arm allows for unique angles and positions.

The four-wheeled Dolly is designed to accommodate all iPhones (even with protective cases still on), but does so with a universal cradle that can fit most other smartphones or mobile devices, like an iPod Touch, for example. When the cradle is taken off, users can screw in a compact point-and-shoot camera or even a mirrorless or DSLR to capture images or footage that way. There’s also a special GoPro tripod mount that is sold separately by GoPro. $59.95.