In short, yes. MP3 players are still useful. However, they may become less stylish sooner rather than later. Looking back over the past several decades, we've seen many music players come in and out of fashion. History tells us that eventually, some new way to listen to music will probably replace MP3 players. For the time being, however, MP3 players remain popular and useful music devices.
Smartphones are becoming more and more popular and advancing every year. Over the last few years, cell phones have evolved into little computers, connecting us to our loved ones, the Internet, countless applications, and our favorite media. These handy little devices are like a technological swiss army knife. It can be used as a notepad, a phone, recorder, PC, GPS device, and so much more. One of the top reasons people are getting rid of MP3 players, is that they can listen to their favorite music from their phones. However, it may still be some time before smartphones make MP3 players obsolete.
There are several obstacles holding consumers back from using smartphones as all-in-one devices. One of the major factors begin cost. Although an increasing number of consumers are buying smartphones, there are still a lot of people who can't afford the devices and expensive contracts. Not only do the smartphones themselves cost hundreds of dollars, but in order to use the device, the customer has to sign a data and phone contract. Even the minimal plans are around $60 a month.
Size is another factor that sets MP3 players apart from smartphones. MP3 players don't have to serve several different functions, so they can be very simple and lightweight. Since the walkman, music players have been ideal for working out, and the smaller the better. Something like an iPod Shuffle or Nano is ideal for exercising, which a bulky smartphone couldn't replace.
Another major issue with replacing an MP3 with a smartphone, is the limited storage space. People's music collections just keep growing, especially with the ease with which we can store it these days. An MP3 player's 4GB or 16GB is dedicated completely to the user's music files. That can hold a lot of music. Smartphones can also hold 16GB or even 32GB of storage, but there are a lot more applications and functions taking up that space. By the time you've downloaded all your favorite apps and stored all your contact information, there is significantly less space available for your music. Again, like a technological swiss army knife, in a pinch, that little cork screw will work, but it doesn't exactly replace cork screws all together.
Some music players have stood the test of time better than others. For example, the record player is still a reasonably popular way to listen to music. People still buy records and record players because they enjoy a unique experience with that technology. A-Tracks and Cassette tapes, however, fall flat in the "no longer useful" category. CDs seem to be following in the footsteps of cassettes, but time will tell whether these formats still prove useful in another 20 years.