LG's G5 has proven nothing if not a divisive and unique piece of hardware. While I understand that many people do like the phone, I had a hard time coming to a favorable conclusion when evaluating it over the last few weeks. Conclusions aside, I want to talk about smartphone accessories - and I don't mean TPU cases (well, maybe HTC's Dot View or Samsung's new copycat thereof may count).
When I look at buying a smartphone, I'm looking at the smartphone. Freebies that come to loyal pre-order customers are always nice, but the vast majority of consumers buy a phone and generally a phone only (again, aside from a case) these days when they walk into a store or submit an order online.
Some companies, though, like Xiaomi, have built a business on ecosystems of services and accessories that are generally purchased separately from the actual device. LG is now trying something similar with its Friends initiative. Samsung, too, is diversifying its accessory portfolio, with examples like the Gear VR and Gear 360.
Many of these products require a substantial investment above and beyond the $600+ consumers are paying for these devices in the first place. Samsung's Gear VR is just $99, but its Gear 360 camera likely won't be cheap ($399 is the running guess). LG's 360 CAM and VR are $199 each. The CAM Plus module is $69. Who knows what the rolling robot will cost, or the B&O DAC (though the latter isn't coming to the US).
Products like these are branded and positioned around - and sometimes technologically limited to use with - the smartphones these companies are producing. Buy a Galaxy S7? Why not a $400 action cam and $100 headset to go with your $600 phone? A G5? Well, it just wouldn't be complete without $400 in VR and 360-degree video goodness! That, at least, is the idea - you get upsold what are pitched as high-function, high-tech accessories that likely have much better profit margins than your highly commoditized smartphone. After all, the days of up-selling spare batteries and proprietary chargers are largely gone.
The question is: does anybody actually care about this kind of stuff? I don't think a lot of people are walking into a carrier or electronics store, buying a $600+ smartphone, then getting up-sold on a $300 smartwatch or a $200 action camera. If you want a product in those categories, you'd probably be a savvy enough consumer to have done a bit of research on them, weighed your options, and... bought it on the internet, because why wouldn't you? Even Apple seems hesitant to get into the first-party high-dollar accessory game, preferring to give shelf space in its stores to partner brands who focus on making that particular product instead of trying to emulate them, and potentially doing a worse job in the process.
So this weekend's poll is, I know, a bit on the vague side. But I'll try and articulate this as a more specific question: are you likely to purchase an expensive [$100+] accessory for your smartphone designed specifically for that model or brand?