Has there ever been a product phenomenon like the iPod?

Think about it.

Here’s this device that costs either $100, $200, $300 or $400, depending on which model you choose to get, that I see Generation X, Y and even little-old-ladies wearing at the gym — all to make tunes portable. My daughter has one, I have one, my mother has one, my grandmother has one, my brother has one, everyone in my company has one and pretty much everyone I know has one. Sure, there are a few friends of mine who have MP3 players from Dell, Creative and a few other companies, but they all talk about how many “issues’ they have keeping them running properly and how they should, “go ahead and get the damn iPod”.

That in itself is a phenomenon. But, more to the HomeAV market, there’s an even bigger one — the plethora of $500, $1,000 and even $2,000 accessories that the market has created for the iPod. Here’s this little MPEG-4 audio player that’s designed to make music portable and we’ve invented a host of products to turn the iPod into a Music Server. That’s right, a music server. And all the huge, long-established AV companies are jumping to incorporate the iPod into their products.

Talk about the tail wagging the dog.

Sonance has a free-standing iPort docking system for $1,000 and an in-wall for $598. Crestron, among the Cadillacs of control systems, developed a two-way iPod interface so that the iPod GUI shows up on a Crestron touchpanel. Even auto makers, BMW, Dodge, Ford, GM and plenty more, are incorporating iPod interfaces into their audio systems. Just about every major audio and media distribution company responded with integration of some sort or another.

This little gadget not only spurred sales of its own, it created a desire for home audio systems and gave a boost to the entire industry.

That’s what the ProAV industry needs — a little, affordable, indispensable doo-dad, an innovation on its own but one that kicks the “stale” right out of the industry.

I don’t know what it could be. But if you do, write to me and tell me and we’ll publish it in a future edition of rAVe.