The Era of the iPod Draws to a Close

The iPod served Apple well, turning the company from a computer maker into a consumer electronics powerhouse.  It ignited sales of digital tracks and transformed the way people purchased and consumed music.  A hundred years from now, people will marvel over how the iPod was the catalyst for so much change and disruption.

But now it’s time to lay the iPod to rest.  Its work is done.

Apple held its quarterly earnings report yesterday where it announced record sales of iPhones and iPads.  Computers also continue to do well.  But the iPod? Not so much.

In the last quarter, only 6 million iPods of all shapes and sizes were sold worldwide, a drop of 52% from a year earlier.  Compare that to 26 million iPads and 51 million iPhones. And even though the iPod was responsible for nearly a billion dollars in revenue, that’s pocket change for Apple.  Hardly worth the bother, really.

The iPhone and iPad have cannibalized iPod sales as people opt for a more full-featured device over something that just plays music (and maybe a few other things if you opt for the iPod Touch.  But then again, the price of a Touch makes that kind of purchase a little silly.)

And it’s not just Apple products.  The age of the standalone MP3 player is coming to an end.

The iPod isn’t quite dead yet–I mean, I love my little wristband-mounted nano when I go for a run–but the end is certainly nigh.

More at The Verge.  And while we’re on the topic of Apple, read this article about why the investment community has this irrational sense about why Apple never does anything good enough.



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38427 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

8 thoughts on “The Era of the iPod Draws to a Close

  • The iPod isn’t the showcase product for Apple that it once was, but it’s still has value to them as a relatively cheap way for customers to get introduced to Apple’s product line. And the price point for the iPod touch isn’t so silly if you consider it gives one access to most of the apps on the iTunes store. For a person who already had a different brand phone, the Touch is a decent standalone portable gaming device with a rich library of apps. I think Apple will keep it around for a while, in some form or another, until the market changes to make that form factor completely obsolete.

  • Maybe I should go buy another iPod classic 160GB so I have a replacement when my current one dies. Don’t think there is anything that comes close to it capacity wise.

    • Funny, I’ve started snapping them up used. I like the idea of creating massive themed collections of artists, albums, eras and genres.

      And as long as you treat them well, iPods seem so far to have a fairly long lifespan.

    • I fully agree. I wish they had Bluetooth capability though.

  • I have bought a few generations of the nano. Still want to have a separate device for music though.

    I wonder what the sales of itunes songs are relative to device? and also looking into single song download versus album.

    Hopefully another player like Pono would be compatible for itunes library.

  • When they make a mobile phone the size of my iPod nano, then I’ll get rid of it. Otherwise, need a separate device for my music. And a small device. Frustrated by trend toward larger, heavier phones. As for an iPad? That won’t fit in my pocket! If you need a big purse (or manbag) for your stuff, then you have too much stuff.

  • Music is my big hobby. I take as much of my music with me as I can whenever I drive anywhere. My 160GB iPods let me do that. My iPad has 32GB and can only hold 64GB. I’m not about to stream audio from my phone for an entire road trip. Until in-car internet becomes as common here as it is in the US, I need my iPods.

    On a somewhat related note, I also need Apple to smarten up and loosen the rules for the iCloud. I can’t us the cloud because I have more than 25,000 songs that weren’t purchased through iTunes. Well of course I do, I’ve been collecting music since the mid 80s when I was 10. I’ll pay double, just give me storage for everything.

  • People have been saying for years that the iPod classic’s days are numbered. But year after year it still gets sold and people still buy it.

    Until you can easily get access to unlimited data everywhere you go, there’ll be a need for the Classic.


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