As the dust settles after Macworld Expo 2000, makers of Mac third-party peripherals are left counting the cost of responding to Apple’s new iMac range of colours.

Many predicted that, if Apple continues to tinker with its product colours, then designing companion products will become too expensive.

Hundreds of firms worldwide are now wondering what do with USB hubs, CD-ROM drives, external hard-disks and keyboards and mice in Apple’s “old” iMac colours.

The four new iMac shades unveiled at the Expo – Indigo, Ruby, Snow and Sage – mean hundreds of iMac-styled peripherals became instantly outmoded.

The reaction of Melody Saffery, product manager with California-based Belkin Components, is typical of those involved in Mac-peripherals manufacturing.

She told CNet: "I was at the Keynote speech thinking, 'Oh my God, my product line.' We probably keep a 30- to 60-day inventory of products and we had no idea the old colours would be replaced entirely.

“At least many of the coloured items on our products are snap-on attachments, meaning most of the our inventory can be upgraded relatively easily.”

Other manufacturers, however, are lumbered with items clad in the now-outdated Strawberry, Grape, Lime, Tangerine and Blueberry.

Eric Huang's company, New Spec, sells a $349 computer desk that’s almost entirely covered in plastic to match the old iMacs.

"I don't think changing the colours so quickly is such a good thing," Huang said.

"If they are doing new products every six months at Macworld, it makes for a lot of inventory of 'me too' products," said Laura Kirkpatrick, vice president of Pele Enterprises, a New Jersey company that makes speakers and CD cases in iMac colours.

Kirkpatrick said her company will probably try to market its speakers as add-ons for new portable CD player models that have adopted the original iMac palette.

"We pretty much have to find some new markets because Apple buyers are going to want what Apple does," Kirkpatrick said.

Having to work through a double wammy is MacMate, which chose this Macworld show to introduce the iCradle, a wrist support. The $25 unit fits around the original iMac keyboard, now discontinued, and comes in the original iMac colours.