There's been a lot of noise about Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPod nano product, but it's no secret that the iPod movement has become much larger than just the MP3 players themselves. There is an "iPod economy" that's going strong and indicates the continued dominance of the device.

I admit it, I'm quite an Apple junkie myself, being a lifelong Mac user and someone who is very attached to her iPods (yes, that's plural). Regardless, I sounded off here regarding my feelings about the new iPod nano. (As a quick aside, many Foolish readers wrote in to tell me that they disagreed with my opinion on the subject.) Back in the spring, though, I did wonder whether the low-priced iPod Shuffle was really a gateway to bigger and better iPod experiences.

Regardless, I get a little creeped out sometimes when I'm driving home from Fool HQ and notice the huge percentage of pedestrians with their white earbuds in their ears. (Such a display of product-related conformity brings to mind pop-culture icons like the Borg -- resistance is futile, you will be assimilated -- or any number of zombie flicks.) Of course, I'm not really one to talk, considering my iPod carpools to work with me in the passenger seat of my car.

An absolute consumer love affair has commenced with this device, illustrated well by the increasing numbers of accessories, from frivolous to functional, that are now available. Think about it -- when was the last time you dressed up your TV? Sony's (NYSE:SNE) Walkman phenomenon decades ago is a walk in the park compared with today's iPod frenzy.

Personally, I've got the Griffin iTrip and the Altec Lansing portable audio system to make my iPod more flexible for my traveling music needs. I've also got several cases for my iPod. There are loads of other accessories available, such as devices for voice recording and alarm clocks, and of course, people can get audio interfaces for their iPods in their BMWs.

At the beginning of this year, there were 500 iPod accessories available. Just nine months later, that number has doubled to more than 1,000. And I'm sure you've noticed, it's not just the Apple Store that sells iPod paraphernalia. You can get iPod gear at RadioShack (NYSE:RSH), (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), to name just a few. Sharper Image (NASDAQ:SHRP) takes it to further extremes of wackiness -- it sells an iPod-compatible massage chair and a device that adds a light show to your musical experience.

It's easy to see that people are spending millions of dollars on iPod accessories -- some pundits say that consumers spend an average of half as much on accessories as they spend on the iPods themselves. Although I have often wondered how long the iPod craze could possibly go on before competitors start making headway, directing some thought to the accessories market indicates how many people have made a real commitment to the device. That says to me that the iPod will be difficult to unseat in cool factor, giving investors reason to believe that Apple's success could very well continue for quite some time. And that's just fine, because I was just eyeing a really cute Kate Spade iPod case yesterday .

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. So far, she has fought off the temptation to buy yet another case for her iPod.