Apple's iPod continues to lead an ever-shrinking market of portable media players

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
For the dwindling segment of consumers who are either not interested in having an app ecosystem on their music player or for whom raw capacity is the paramount concern, the iPod remains the overwhelming favorite, according to new data provided to AppleInsider.

iPod lineup


Apple commands a staggering 72 percent of the market for standalone music players, NPD research analyst Benjamin Arnold recently told AppleInsider, though the overall size of that market continues to contract amidst cannibalization from smartphones --?the last twelve months alone have seen it shrink by 33 percent.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has never been afraid of reducing demand for one of its devices by creating demand for another, an attitude that permeates the company's executive ranks. Former Chief Executive Steve Jobs was famously quoted as saying, "if we don't cannibalize ourselves, someone else will."

As early as 2009, the company indicated that it knew iPhone growth would come at the expense of the traditional iPod business, and Arnold believes the latest iPhones are encroaching even further on one of the flash memory-based iPods' traditional strongholds: exercise.

The mid-range iPhone 5c boasts a tougher polycarbonate shell, and the new M7 motion coprocessor in the flagship iPhone 5s adds the ability to accurately capture an enormous amount of data when working out -- both attractive updates for fitness buffs looking to trim the number of devices they are forced to care for. That said, the iPod lineup does retain some advantages over its communications-based siblings.

iPod nano


iPods are much smaller and lighter than iPhones --?the iPod nano weighs less than one third as much as the iPhone 5s and is half its physical size. An iPod-related accident also presents a significantly less daunting financial blow, with the iPod shuffle coming in at just $49, versus $549 for an unsubsidized iPhone 5c.

The fitness market, then, may represent the floor for Apple's more diminutive music players. Arnold says a recent growth spurt in fitness-oriented headphones --?even traditionally high-end audio firm Bose now makes a "sport" set --?is a sign that the market is alive and well, and it may be large enough to feed both the iPod and iPhone machines.

As for the iPod classic, the only remaining hard disk-based iPod soldiers on despite not having seen an update since 2009. Though whispers of its demise multiply each time it is passed over for a refresh, Arnold believes the growing high-quality audio trend may trigger the device's resurgence as an attractive option for audiophiles.The iPod classic could experience a resurgence thanks to the new high-quality audio trend, NPD believes.

Lossless, high-quality tracks require considerably larger swaths of storage real estate than their MP3- or AAC-encoded brethren. Even the Apple Lossless codec, a compressed lossless format, often produces files that are four to five times as large as standard MP3s. A typical AAC-encoded track purchased from iTunes is around 7 megabytes in size, where as its Apple Lossless-encoded equivalent would hover near 30 megabytes.

The iPod classic's 160 gigabyte capacity is nearly 3 times that of the iPhone's largest 64 gigabyte configuration. Even if Apple doubled the iPhone's memory to 128 gigabytes,?which some believe could happen in the handset's next iteration,?music would still compete for space with apps, photos, videos, and other documents.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    19831983 Posts: 1,132member
    I'm an audiophile and download a lot of HD 24bit music and it eats up capacity like there's no tomorrow. Even the Classic's 160GB capacity is woefully inadequate!
  • Reply 2 of 21
    blackbookblackbook Posts: 1,361member
    There's no resurgence coming to the iPod line.

    Once Apple's wearable device comes out then there will be no need for the Shuffle or the Nano.

    Apple needs to make a 1TB iPod Classic and keep the Touch around until the iPhone C becomes a more affordable option for consumers.
  • Reply 3 of 21
    I agree with blackbook on the shuffle being replaced by a wearable...

    as for a 1TB iPod Classic.. doubtful... if you figure it's at least a $400 bump from 160 to 1TB in Apple's portable storage pricing, that effectively puts the Touch higher in price than the current 5C with LTE and a couple years of iTunes Match.

    I think the real demise of the iPod will fundamentally be the precipitous drop in LTE connection pricing. Once you're always connected for $30 a month (Virgin Mobile and TMobile and Sprint will drive the prices down in the US), then iTunes Match becomes ubiquitous and 256bit or higher quality mp3s (or ALAC) will be everywhere, and your local device is just a cache for your favorite music.

    At which point the iPad Mini LTE will be the audiophiles mobile device of choice. I'm assuming that in 3 years, that the price will drop to the $299 range for a 64GB version of that.
  • Reply 4 of 21
    st88st88 Posts: 124member

    Excluding the capacity, the iPod is not a preferable audiophile device.  Even as a storage/player going out to an external DAC/AMP, you're better spending your money elsewhere. 

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TheOtherGeoff View Post



    At which point the iPad Mini LTE will be the audiophiles mobile device of choice. I'm assuming that in 3 years, that the price will drop to the $299 range for a 64GB version of that.

     

    No...  Even if someone was to use it with a portable DAC/AMP, something like a Dell Venue 8 Pro which sells for ~$250 can run applications such as foobar2000, it has a microSD expansion slot and offer full driver compatibility with an external DAC.

  • Reply 5 of 21

    What's odd is how Apple charges more for the high-end iPod Touch than what many manufacturers charge for their unlocked smartphones.  Whatever.  I wish that Apple would do something about the iPod line to give it a boost.  I still think the click-wheel is rather unique and an excellent blind-touch interface for a music player.  I believe Apple will never make a 1TB Classic because most consumers will never require that much capacity and it would be a money loser from the start.  The iPod Touch definitely needs an A7 processor if its going to be touted as a hand-held gaming machine.  The iPod Touch should also include an M7 processor and make the case water-resistant for workouts.  If Apple wants to skimp on its cameras then so be it.

     

    I'm personally getting sick and tired of Wall Street howling about how iPod sales are dying.  It's practically a given since every iPhone contains an iPod.  I think the Nano is useful as it is and if they increase the capacity, all well and good.  The Shuffle may be a nice stocking stuffer but as far as I'm concerned, Apple can dump it.  I feel Apple should know what to do with the iPod lineup better than anyone and if it does fill some niche then maybe it's not a bad thing to keep.  Only Apple knows that for certain.

  • Reply 6 of 21
    I love my green iPod Nano 7th Gen. !! Wish apple make at last a 32GB ipod Nano
  • Reply 7 of 21
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,589member
    Apple not selling enough iPods. Doomed. /s

    Still it's amazing the MP3 player market has risen and fallen in such a short time.
  • Reply 8 of 21

    The latest iPod nano (7th gen) already has Bluetooth 4.0, but it just serves for audio output purposes.

     

    Apple could release a simple software update that brings communication with iOS devices, to display notifications, weather and even make calls (cell or FaceTime audio) by going trough the iPhone, kind of like the hypothetical iWatch.

     

    I guess this would be useless for most people and that's why Apple likely won't do it, but a lightweight remote control/display for iOS devices is still an interesting idea to me.

  • Reply 9 of 21
    Santa is replacing my daughters 4th gen 8GB ipod with a 5th gen apple refurb 32GB yellow itouch. She is 10 and has no need for a phone so the itouch is ideal.
  • Reply 10 of 21
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,825member
    What's odd is how Apple charges more for the high-end iPod Touch than what many manufacturers charge for their unlocked smartphones.  Whatever.  I wish that Apple would do something about the iPod line to give it a boost.  I still think the click-wheel is rather unique and an excellent blind-touch interface for a music player.  I believe Apple will never make a 1TB Classic because most consumers will never require that much capacity and it would be a money loser from the start.  The iPod Touch definitely needs an A7 processor if its going to be touted as a hand-held gaming machine.  The iPod Touch should also include an M7 processor and make the case water-resistant for workouts.  If Apple wants to skimp on its cameras then so be it.

    I'm personally getting sick and tired of Wall Street howling about how iPod sales are dying.  It's practically a given since every iPhone contains an iPod.  I think the Nano is useful as it is and if they increase the capacity, all well and good.  The Shuffle may be a nice stocking stuffer but as far as I'm concerned, Apple can dump it.  I feel Apple should know what to do with the iPod lineup better than anyone and if it does fill some niche then maybe it's not a bad thing to keep.  Only Apple knows that for certain.

    That was almost a totally nice, positive post from you. Well done. :D
  • Reply 11 of 21
    iWatch will make all things new again...
  • Reply 12 of 21
    I love my Classic. I travel a lot and am frequently out of phone and wifi ranges. With over 9000 songs, 240 video clips, eight audiobooks, four feature length movies, 7 days of iTunes U courses, and 811 podcasts available I can keep myself entertained for days on end and still have about 50 Gb of storage available. As a coach I jack the iPod into a TV or just show video clips of elite athletes on the fly. For the amount of content the size is amazing. Apple could do so much more with the classic such as bluetooth output, variable speed control of video both forward and backward, and higher resolution capability of video for use with high-res TVs and video monitors. As flash memory becomes cheaper, Apple should consider a next generation iPod with 500 Gb to 1 Tb capacity and a more sophisticated operating system.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    Originally Posted by georgert View Post

    Apple should consider a next generation iPod with 500 Gb to 1 Tb capacity and a more sophisticated operating system.

     

    Yeah, they already did in 2007.

  • Reply 14 of 21
    I hope Apple keeps updating the iPod Touch. I love my 5th generation. An iPhone would be great, but I usually don't have to be in constant contact. So it wouldn't be a great use of my money on a monthly bill. So I use mine as a prepaid wifi phone. I've always thought apple should promote it as such.

    I just use Line2 and FaceTime to make phone calls. And if I know I'm going to be traveling, I just use a prepaid Virgin Mobile hotspot to make calls in the wild. If a speaker and mic were added to the front, I could ditch the EarPods for calls.
  • Reply 15 of 21
    Smart entrepreneurs know the power of either being the first to market or be the last to abondon. Apple knows both.... Wow
  • Reply 16 of 21
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    I got introduced to iOS through my iPod touch. What I miss is the scroll wheel. It remains by far the best way to skip inside a song, especially if you're listening to a long DJ set.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member
    [LIST=1]
    [*] iPod Shuffle = The Shuffle has a low price barrier. It is a great intro to Apple's iTunes eco system. I believe they will keep it.
    [*] ? - iPod nano = Will Apple drop the nano in favor of the new iWatch?
    [*] ? - iPod classic = The click wheel remains the best interface when skipping inside a song. Will Apple keep a dedicated music player? They could combine the click wheel with a touchscreen? I hope they do. The iconic click wheel still makes sense on an UX level.
    [*] iPod mini = 3,5" iPod Touch. The iPod mini could make the iOS available to the price conscious sub 300$ audience. I love the pocketable size of the 3,5" iOS devices.
    [*] iPod = 4" iPod Touch. I really enjoyed mine. It is an iPhone minus the phone. Great for those looking for a sub 400$ iPhone experience.
    [/LIST]
  • Reply 18 of 21
    Hello

    My transision into the fascinating world of Apple started with the smallest iPod - Shuffle by 2006 which gave the real feel of Apple Products that open my door to be a die hard fan of Apple and started to admire Steve Jobs and his perpetual Legacy.

    By 2007 I got my iPod Nano still using it for listening to music; Then by the end of 2009 I got MacBook; followed by getting all accessories like Magic Mouse; Magic Trackpad; Blutooth keyboard; Airport Expess; AirPort Extreme; Battery chargers where a single charge give 6 months of continuous usage; Finally by 2012 got iPhone 5. So the return of investment of iPod is many folds where there are many people like me into moving to Apple by abandoning Microsoft that makes your life sink in black n white. So what I feel this line of product must be enhanced which will create a lots of customer base for Apple. Another fact is even though I have iPhone I doesn't use it for listening to music as I do it with my iPod. The reason is simple as I don't want to drain the battery backup and then run out of precious space too. So iPod has it advantages to the users and many fold benificial to Apple as it attracts new users with minimum investment to make an entry into the world if Apple and then there is no looking back
  • Reply 19 of 21
    mr omr o Posts: 1,046member

    Actually, Apple could incorporate a virtual click wheel inside iOS. It could be a little icon inside iTunes next to the play bar. Selecting this will generate a virtual click wheel overlay which let's you skip (or skim?) inside a song.

     

    I do miss the fine tuning capabilities of the click wheel in iOS.

  • Reply 20 of 21

    I expect Apple to push to make the ipod touch cheaper and the main ipod lineup.  Next year I expect Apple to be making a "c" version of the ipod touch.  A low end level touch ipod with plastic instead of metal.

     

    I worry about the wearable devices and how they will work.  Will it come with wireless headphones?  Because wired headphones connected to your wrist will be strange, and potentially oncomfortable.

     

    I do think the markets are changing, but there will always be a market for small MP3 players for exercise.

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