By Sarah Falson

SYDNEY: Fledgling iPod accessory-maker Gear4 will reveal the first of a new line of mobile phone accessories this afternoon, called the BluPhone, which will allow the company to dramatically expand its retail model. secured an exclusive telephone interview this morning with Gear4 managing director and canny businessman, Jamie Dudderidge, who launched the company in Europe only three years ago with the help of his brother and a bookkeeper, and made a profit of one million pounds in the first year alone.

“By the end of the first year we had seven products, and we grew massively. Once we were in it we were in it big,” he said.

“At the end of the second year we decided to do products other than iPod accessories, including accessories for gaming systems, mobile phones and other portable devices.”

The company will now follow-up the successful BluEye iPod-to-mobile headset link – which sold extremely well for the company over the recent Christmas period, according to Dudderidge – with a range of accessories for mobile phones, beginning with the BluPhone (RRP $129.95), a small, lightweight Bluetooth-enabled earphone-set for mobile nespho, which is launching this afternoon in Sydney.

“We’ve been looking at Bluetooth headphone technology for almost two years now, but we didn’t invest in it before because it was expensive to make and the battery life wasn’t up to scratch,” said Dudderidge.

When the BluEye launched in Australia in November, it was touted as the gagdet to own in lieu of the forethcoming Apple iPhone, which will launch locally next year. According to Dudderidge, Gear4 doesn’t mean to rival Apple, and sees a market for both its BluEye and the iPhone.

"The Apple iPhone has built up awareness about making and receiving calls on your iPod, and it has also raised awareness of listening to music on your mobile. Not everyone is going to purchase an iPhone — Apple is looking at one per cent market share here. So, this means there will still be a lot of iPods being sold out there, and these people will still want to make and receive calls via their iPod," said Dudderidge.

In regards to the new BluPhone, whose details are yet to be announced, Dudderidge said it is the best-looking Bluetooth headset on the marlet for the mobile phone.

“We’ve overcome [the battery and cost] issues now with a range of new products to launch over the next three months beginning with the BluPhone which is slim and sexy in design, sounds great, feature A2DP technology for digital stereo sound, and has five hours of audio or 60 hours standby,” he said.

According to Dudderidge, the BluPhone and the rest of the “music on your mobile range” will open up an entire new retail channel for the company.

“Clasically, we were distributing in JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman. We’re now available in over 800 store fronts around Australia," he said.

“Now we are relevant to many new retail customers who we couldn’t approach before – classic mobile phone retailers like Allphones and Crazy Johns.”

Gear4 will also bring a new range of lower-priced portable audio gear to the local market soon, which will retail in mass merchants like Kmart and Big W.

“Our other brand, called iLab, which is a budget commodity brand, just launched in the UK and will launch in Australia soon. It will be sold through big discount retailers, opposed to the higher end retailers who sell the BluEye and the BluPhone,” said Dudderidge.

“We are quite specific about where we’re targeting our products,” he said.