NEW YORK -- After bemoaning the emergence of the iPod as children's latest must-have toy, toy makers are now looking at it as their own marketing strategy.
After the success last year of Zizzle Inc.'s iZ and Hasbro Inc.'s I-Dog, both of which hook up to Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, competitors are coming up with their own iPod-friendly products, aimed at preteens. The toys, being shown at this week's American International Toy Fair trade expo, range from electronic drumsticks and other musical instruments to chairs and electronic playmates that act as speakers.
''The iPod is the number one toy. My view is why fight them? Why not join them?" said Isaac Larian of MGA Entertainment Inc., which has a chair under its popular Bratz brand that serves as an iPod speaker.
Apple has sold more than 42 million iPods, 30 million in 2005, making the gadget a huge marketing opportunity for companies in a range of industries. Merchandise including iPod clothing, leather cases, speakers, and massage chairs were part of an estimated $850 million cottage industry last year.