The iPod saved Apple and revolutionized the music industry, while making investors happy as shares have surged a split-adjusted 4,562% since the music player made its debut on Oct. 23, 2001. However, its glory days may be over. Although more than 45 million iPods have been sold over the last four quarters alone, the 10th anniversary is approaching and there are signs that Apple is shifting more of its focus elsewhere.
The number of iPods that continue to sell are astounding, but sales are in decline. Unit sales are down 12.5% year-over-year and revenues have fallen 6.2%. Notably, Apple has been unusually quiet about their highly successful product line this year. We’re nearing the end of September and still there has not been a word from the company.
Yesterday reports emerged of an Apple event scheduled for October 4, but that the main focus would be on the iPhone, not the iPod lineup. Apple is not likely to build an event around a product that’s in retreat, even if it’s historically the most successful. The silence surrounding the iPod, combined with the fact that Apple didn’t unveil a new version of the iPhone at its developers’ conference in June, has added to the feeling that Apple will use whatever event is coming up to make the iPhone the star of its next show.
“This is Steve Jobs’s genius,” said Silicon Valley futurist thinker and Stanford University instructor Paul Saffo. “The guy destroys the industries he creates to create something new. Who else but Jobs would invent the whole music model with the stand-alone player, and then destroy the market for a stand-alone player by coming out with a phone and a pad?”
Like other industry changers, such as the personal computer and television, the iPod isn’t going away. Don’t forget there is an iPod application in every Apple iPhone and iPad. But even though the iPod will remain on Apple’s roster, it is obvious that after 10 years, its days in the starting lineup as a standalone player are done.
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