Third-party iPod case makers welcome the fourth-generation of the market-leading music player, despite the debut of a new control system.

The new model is smaller and lighter than preceding iPods, so some case manufacturers will need to introduce new products, particularly as the new iPods also debut new ClickWheel controls borrowed from iPod mini.

RadTech CEO John Grzeskowiak welcomed the new iPod user interface, calling the click wheel "much more efficient". His company is "hard at work on new 4G PodSleevz cases". These should be available in "two or three weeks", he promised.

Edgar Matias also welcomed the ClickWheel, admitting: "I never upgraded from the second generation iPod, because I didn't like the buttons on the third, they were far too easy to press. The new controls are the best yet, competitors will have a hard time coming up with something better."

"We plan to change the front face of our iPod Armor case to match the look of the new 4G iPods," he explained. "It will probably be 2-3 months before it is available", but added that the current iPodArmor case can fit the new-breed iPod.

Booming market

Dr. Bott CEO Roderich Bott said that for many manufacturers, the challenge of matching Apple's new look is mitigated by future market opportunity.

"The expectation is that the price and appearance of the new generation iPod and the introduction of the HP iPod will create a larger market than before."

"As iPod shipments increase, so do accessory sales," he observed.

Demand remains strong for iPod products for all generations of the music player. Bott told Macworld: "Much to our surprise, we are selling more iPod 3G specific accessories right now than ever before, we are even having to order new production runs for several popular items."

Time Magazine last week reported the iPod to have "secrets". A software developer contacted by Macworld speculated as to what these might be: "It is known that the processor in the new iPod (and the mini) supports MPEG-4 and Windows media. It may be able to send video out through the Dock".

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