The iPod was, at one point, the definitive way that you listened to music on the go. The silhouetted adverts were well parodied and one glance of those white headphones and you knew what it meant. It was by no means the first portable MP3 player available, but Apple definitely helped popularise the market. Their sleek, clean designs meant that the iPods were considered infinitely cool. They were easy to use and won awards in engineering and audio. However, nowadays the market is different to when it was back when the iPod launched in 2001. Music can be consumed on a variety of devices, be it a smartphone or a tablet. It bears the question: is the iPod losing popularity?
First, let’s take a look at the sales figures. Apple reported in September 2012 that they had sold 350 million iPods worldwide. That is a staggering figure, but it comes as no surprise when you consider that the iPod dominates MP3 player sales. However, things are changing. In the third quarter of 2012, Apple reported that 6.8 million iPods were sold. That still sounds like a lot, but it is down 10 per cent from the same period the previous year. Compare this to 26 million sales of iPhones in the same quarter (an increase of 28 per cent over the previous year) and it is clear where the market is heading. According to market research company Mintel, MP3 players like the iPod are going to keep losing sales and that is a trend that is “unlikely to reverse”.
As mentioned earlier, one of the reasons that the iPod sales are declining is because smartphones are becoming increasingly affordable. In fact, it is possible to pick one up for less money than an iPod and it will do pretty much everything the same – as well as, of course, make phone calls. Smartphones are just more convenient than an MP3 player because people always have them with them. At the moment there are around one billion smartphones in use. That figure is estimated to double by 2015.
However, Apple has not forgotten about the iPod. It was only in September 2012 that they released the new iPod Nano and iPod Touch, sporting sleeker designs and new features. It is likely that the iPod range could be toned down, though. The Classic has not been updated for a while and is the only main device that is still sporting the trademark clickwheel rather than a touchscreen.
The iPod could be viewed as a device from a different time, before the smartphone became hugely popular. Although sales of Apple’s MP3 are dropping, they are still in the millions and that’s nothing to sniff out. However, it is probably only a matter of time before they start phasing out some of the iPod models and then, perhaps, the brand together. When smartphones can do music, phone and a whole lot more all in one, iPods aren’t going to retain such high sales (and nor are MP3 players in general).