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Why the iPod is Losing its Cool 563

Posted by Zonk
from the totally-unhip dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian Unlimited has a provocative article on the recent decline in iPod sales: 'Analysts warn that the iPod has passed its peak. From its launch five years ago its sales graph showed a consistent upward curve, culminating in a period around last Christmas that saw a record 14 million sold. But sales fell to 8.5 million in the following quarter, and down to 8.1 million in the most recent three-month period. Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.'"
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Why the iPod is Losing its Cool

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  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:37PM (#16076389) Journal

    From the article:

    Although it has sold nearly 60 million actual iPods and a billion downloaded songs worldwide, cracks have begun to appear in the edifice.

    There doesn't seem so much of a crack in any edifice as much as there's ultimately a saturation of the marketplace. At some point, pretty much everyone who wants an iPod gets one, and by now that's pretty much done (anyone hear any recent "I want an iPod" whines from anyone?).

    Jobs (from Apple) isn't letting the grass grow ... with his

    most ambitious iPod service yet - the sale of feature-length films via the internet for viewing on the devices, which may receive an expanded 'widescreen' and improved storage capacity. If downloading movies from a computer to an iPod proves even half as revolutionary as it did for music, the multibillion-pound DVD industry could be quaking.

    As seen in a previous slashdot discussion (the Amazon Unbox article [slashdot.org]) on video download, it isn't going to happen, or is at least unlikely. There is a slew of articles and surveys showing consumers, especially the target demographic of "younger folk" aren't that interested in long (full length features) videos. Video downloads, management, etc., is just a messier beast for consumers, enough so it's a long way from emergent (storage considerations, price, quality of small devices, battery power for video, DRM, download times, backups, etc.).

    Also, consumers are getting hip to the snake oil that is iTunes: (from the article)

    ..., We have heard from some conspiracy theorists that the batteries are made to die soon after the warranty ends.

    'Other complaints are that iTunes [Apple's online music store] is overpriced and the format is not easily transferred on to other players. In our ethnography interviews, some long-time iPod-users told us that they have stopped updating their iPods because it's too much work, while other consumers who had bought iPods more recently had not even taken theirs out of the package to set it up.'

    Yeah, initially all were in love with the iPod because for the return on effort, it seemed like magic. Consumers eventually get tired of jumping through even the tiniest of hoops to continue "enjoying" their gadgets. They want to turn it on, and not have to worry that the computer from which they're trying to transfer music is "iTunes anointed" or not. DRM-fatigue, finally, sets in (it's about time!).

    This is the SONY walkman all over again, then the SONY CD walkman... it's done. It's hard to imagine quantum leaps of coolness and convenience beyond an iPod or video iPod. The curve had to level, there just isn't any there there. Apple should be happy with what they've done, but I don't think this is a growth niche any longer.

    • by kamapuaa (555446) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:48PM (#16076459) Homepage
      Yeah, initially all were in love with the iPod because for the return on effort, it seemed like magic. Consumers eventually get tired of jumping through even the tiniest of hoops to continue "enjoying" their gadgets. They want to turn it on, and not have to worry that the computer from which they're trying to transfer music is "iTunes anointed" or not. DRM-fatigue, finally, sets in (it's about time!).

      The majority of iPod users use MP3s, which aren't affected by DRM. And DRM isn't anything at all new to iPod, either. There's no reason to assume the correlation that you take as a given. Any random anti-DRM screed is sure to get modded +5 on Slashdot, but you should put in the extra work and have it at least make some kind of sense.

      And it isn't a scientific survey, but every person I know who's technologically savvy enough to be downloading MP3s is also downloadings .avi's. Here in China MP4 compliance is a big selling point for cell phones, PDAs, and other random gadgets. I gotta believe it's the same in the US. Amazon may not be impressing people, but that has more to do with the price than the fundamental concept.

      • by Soul-Burn666 (574119) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:01PM (#16076539) Journal
        In my opinion, portable video will never be really as successful as portable music.
        Music, unlike video, requires only one sense (hearing) and can be passive while one is doing other things.
        You can listen to music while you browse the web, jog, write code.
        You can't really watch a video using a portable device while doing those things. (other than porn...)

        It can work though for people who travel a lot in public transportation.
        That niche is partly filled by portable gaming which is also an activity that requires your attention.
        • by Seiruu (808321) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:16PM (#16076944)
          You can listen to music while you browse the web, jog, write code.
          You can't really watch a video using a portable device while doing those things. (other than porn...)


          Unless you're impotent, watching porn while jogging doesn't sound like a comfortable thing to do. Especially when you're wearing those jogging pants.

          "Dude is that your....??"
          "That's my ehm IPOD sticking out! That's right"
        • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:33PM (#16077024) Journal
          I agree. People don't buy music to listen to it. They buy music so that they can do something else and not get so bored doing it.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AJWM (19027)
            They buy music so that they can do something else and not get so bored doing it.

            Back when I bought music, it was mostly so that I could listen to it, and the radio was for background. That was back before the web and before video/DVD. Who "just listens" to music anymore? (And if I am just listening to music, it won't be to some compressed crap on tinny earbuds, but to vinyl or CD over real speakers.)

            Nowadays, I fill the "do something else and not get bored" niche with books-on-tape (or disc), from the li
        • by zoeblade (600058) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:51PM (#16077278) Homepage

          In my opinion, portable video will never be really as successful as portable music.

          I think you're right, and I think Apple knows this, which is probably why each new Mac Mini (now with Front Row, a remote control and TV output) has been inching closer and closer to the TV set. I suspect people will download videos via iTunes just so they can watch them on TV almost instantly, without the fuss of having to leave the house, probably ignoring whether they can watch them on their iPod or not.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by drsmithy (35869)
            I think you're right, and I think Apple knows this, which is probably why each new Mac Mini (now with Front Row, a remote control and TV output) has been inching closer and closer to the TV set.

            Indeed. It's hard to think of a better HTPC than a 1.66Ghz Core Duo Mini running Windows MCE.

            And as soon as the Apple resellers wake up and stop trying to flog the old Minis for a paltry $10 less than a new one from Apple, I'll be buying one to do just that.

    • by FyRE666 (263011) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:59PM (#16076531) Homepage
      ...DRM-fatigue, finally, sets in (it's about time!).

      You know I'm glad people are finally starting to realise they're being screwed in the ass by DRM. Over the last few months I've been asked various questions by (non technical) family, friends and colleagues that all involve DRM'ed content making things awkward, and not allowing them to do what they want with their legally bought music. I'm happy to tell them why they can't play their iTunes/Napster sourced music wherever they like; hopefully they'll wake up and see where their apathy has got them.

      I then mention there are plenty of places people can get all the music they like without DRM, for nothing ;-) Personally I buy quite a lot of music (about 5-6 albums a week at times). Since the RIAA consider their customers, including me, to be criminals, I've decided to act like one. I burn, rip and share it, and give away copies to anyone who asks ;-) Ironically, if there were no DRM, I wouldn't act this way.
      • by wasted time (891410) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:39PM (#16076747)
        I burn, rip and share it, and give away copies to anyone who asks ;-)

        Link please.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msormune (808119)
        But when you're buing the unprotected CDs, you are eligible to transfer the contents to your own hard disk or what ever, IF THERE IS NO COPY PROTECTION. And regular CDs do not have such protection these days. And I am guessing you are not buying any protected CDs. So you are not acting like a criminal, until you actually distribute the ripped MP3s.
        So you can burn and rip all you want, RIAA will not care. Just don't share.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ScrewMaster (602015)
          So you can burn and rip all you want, RIAA will not care.

          The hell they don't. They simply have no easy way to prosecute or intimidate anyone for personal burning and ripping, but they would if they could, fair use not withstanding. The RIAA doesn't believe in or accept the legitimacy of fair use anyway, considering how they reneged on their side of the Audio Home Recording Act. The studios themselves have demonstrated that they are perfectly willing to use DRM, as well as other even less savory technolog
  • Inevitable (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spikestabber (644578) <spikeNO@SPAMspykes.net> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:37PM (#16076391) Homepage
    Well we are speaking the inevitable here. No fad ever lasts forever.
    • Re:Inevitable (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gormanly (134067) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:50PM (#16076472)

      Of course. Because the iPod only sold 1/3 more in both the first and second quarters than last year. But wait - it's down on last year's Christmas rush sales!!!! It's in decline!! The death of the iPod is here!!!!!!! Oh wait. WTF??

      Come on people, your supposed to be geeks and nerds and so inclined to actually care about real figures. Or is that not cool any longer?

      • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:21PM (#16076651)
        Want to read something funny in retrospect? Read Microsoft's Press Pass interview released to combat the press coverage when iTunes for Windows came out: Q&A: Choosing a Digital Music Service for Windows Users [microsoft.com].

        It's one big advertisement given in the form of a staged interview with Microsoft's general manager of their Windows Digital Media Division. Revel in the humor as he gives choice quotes such as, "iTunes captured some early media interest with their store on the Mac, but I think the Windows platform will be a significant challenge for them." Or "With Windows Media 9 Series, you get faster starts, better quality music, and support for the most devices."

        Tee-hee...
    • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:05PM (#16076563)
      Honestly, all doom-and-gloom iPod discussion in this article is going to look silly after this Tuesday's media event by Apple, which is rumored to be offering new metal-enclosed nanos in multiple colors, new iPods, a cell phone, a video streaming device, and movie downloads from Disney (which also means studios like Miramax).

      Let's sit back and enjoy the negative comments from iPod haters wanting to look really cool and outside-the-norm for bashing a popular piece of technology that's left them behind. After all, it's par for course around here--let's not forget the original iPod announcement or the iPod mini discussions which were oh-so-accurate in their future predictions. Ahem.
    • by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:06PM (#16076571) Homepage
      I'm sure the Apple faithful (*) will violently disagree, but the parent's use of the word "fad" is not poorly chosen. Recently local MBA students (**) in a marketing class surveyed hundreds of kids in local high schools regard digital music players. Stress "digital music players", they did not ask about iPod, they did not lead the respondents(***). The kids were pretty well informed, there was a lot of comparing and contrasting of various players at school. iPods were the most popular device, no surprise there, but there was a surprise. The most popular reason for choosing the iPod over competitors was fashion, a status symbol. It was not ease of use, although ease of use was identified as a category iPod wins in. For technology and features Creative was the winner, the lack of radio was a negative for the iPod.

      The team that did the survey and focus groups was very quick to point out that this was just a class project, small scale and localized. However it was similar to a pilot program that found interesting results and could be used to justify a larger national study.

      (*) I own an iPod, I love it, I would buy another. I own PCs and Macs and use iTunes on both platforms. However I am not religious about music players or operating systems.

      (**) Working professionals who have real jobs in industry, under the supervision of a marketing professor who does this sort of thing for rather large firms. This was a class project, not a consulting project.

      (***) I was not involved in the project but did I sit in on the presentation of the results. My recollection is that the questions went something like:
      Do you own a digital music player?
      What models did you consider?
      What model did you purchase?
      Why did you purchase that model?
      etc.
      • by guidryp (702488) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @03:42PM (#16077055)
        I don't have one, I have an ancient 32K RCA K@zoo with 64mb SD card (the biggest it can handle) that I have not used in a while.

        When I next upgrade it will be an Ipod, not because it is fashionable or faddish or popular, but because there is now a supporting ecosystem. Cars come with IPOD docks, you can get a cheap, nifty running package from Nike that tracks speed/distance while you are listening too music while your run.

        In short I think it is the perfect choice for taking my music with me everywhere, moving seamlessly from jogging, to work, to driving cross country. I am just waiting for an 8Gig Nano to make the driving across country more feasable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by NexFlamma (919608)
        I'd like to make the argument that these children were all idiots.

        Point 1: They choose $400 gadgets based on fashion.
        Point 2: They value the drivel on the radio (I doubt they were missing NPR).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stunt_penguin (906223)
      Fad? What fad?

      The reason that a lower number of iPods are being sold this year in comparison to last year is that more people who want an mp3 player have bought one, lowering the number of sales.

      The game now is shifting a bit more towards the upgrade cycle and maintaining customer loyalty. For example, I've got a 20gb Zen Touch that I bought 2 years ago; it's a great player with excellent battery life and decent sound, but looking around, I think I'm getting towards the last quarter of it's life cycl
  • It's about time. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Red Samurai (893134)
    The iPod always sucked. It was never the best MP3 player, it was simply the most popular and a sought after fashion accessory, and now that people are starting to realise it, they're going to go for alternatives like Creative, which is far superior and cheaper.
  • by EEBaum (520514) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:40PM (#16076408) Homepage
    Seems kinda obvious to me... we're running out of people who want one and don't have one already.
    • by moankey (142715)
      Exactly same reason why PC sales have been declining. The average person doesnt need more than 1-2 ipods or PC's, of course slashdot regulars are the exception.
    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      I agree. But it also might be that the iPod is a pretty solid piece of hardware. Even though hard drive capacities increase over time (you can get a bigger iPod next year) the iPod device itself will last a long time with moderate care. I replaced my 2-year-old 3rd gen iPod when the battery failed to hold a charge longer than an hour, not because it was otherwise broken. (And had the battery been easily user-replaceable, I probably would have done that instead.)

    • by rolfwind (528248)
      OTOH,

      Since they are releasing "upgrades"/features on every generation of iPod - I think it's time for Apple to release a PDA, perhaps integrated into the iPod (since they are making bigger screens for movies anyway).

      I would snap one of those up if it played .ogg as well. All the Windows CE devices on the market have a clunky OS and Palm (the company) seems unstable.

      Right now, I don't think watching movies on a tiny screen is a great incentive for most people, though I'd love to be able to share short clips
  • No surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lispy (136512) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:40PM (#16076411) Homepage
    I think its a mixture of the DRM/format lock-in, regular market saturation and growing competition. Personally I think that the lack of on the fly recording is one of the many reasons why I would get another mp3-player and not an iPod. But lets wait for Apples Showtime event and then talk about it again. Steve might have something to fix the xmas sales.
    • RMS is that you. Well guess what MOST PEOPLE DON'T CARE ABOUT DRM. Maybe they should Maybe they shouldn't but that isn't effecting iPod sales. It is a fact on how much music you can listen to. Most People who are going to get an iPod have gotten it now. The competitors really don't make much of a difference. iPod is selling image not technology. Threw out the day I see numerous people with the white earbuds, and very little wearing something else.
    • by Cylix (55374)
      I use only mp3s on mine....

      Not sure how that format lock in is stopping me from doing that, but it seems fairly broken.

      Sure, it would be nice if I didn't use iTunes to load junk onto the unit, but at least that lets me keep good control over the menu/title display.
    • Re:No surprise (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:36PM (#16076729)
      I think its a mixture of the DRM/format lock-in, regular market saturation and growing competition.


      The mainstream public absolutely doesn't give a crap about iTunes DRM. It's so lax that you never notice it's there (and when people bring up iTunes DRM as a negative point, in almost every case you find that they've never tried it themselves). Most people's music collections are made up of ripped MP3s anyway.

      As for the other two points, market saturation and growing competition have been around since the iPod came out in 2001, so that's nothing new. The market was saturated when Apple came to the game, yet they still won (pissing Creative off something awful). It seems the company performs its best when people are assuming they're down for the count. For the last 20 years, armchair pundits have been claiming Apple was dead, their products weren't selling, that "saturation and growing competition" were going to take them out, and so on.

      I don't get this pervasive need to always hope for Apple's demise all the time. Without them, it'd be all Microsoft, all the time, with the awful WMA-based "PlaysForSure" dominating your music players and turning them into the typical Microsoft experience--unreliable, weird bugs and quirks, a hundred ugly little pieces of hardware running Microsoft software with no seamless vertical experience like you get from Apple.

      Look, new automobiles have freakin' iPod dock ports built into them. The iPod isn't going away anytime soon.

      Personally I think that the lack of on the fly recording is one of the many reasons why I would get another mp3-player and not an iPod.


      I assume you mean you want it built-in, because the iPod has had built-in recording functionality for years now, accessible with add-ons like the Griffin iTalk.
  • Duh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Supersonic1425 (903823) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:41PM (#16076420)

    it's basic business. product lifecycles are virtually all the same. launch, rise, saturation and decline. right now ipod reaching saturation, and it will go into decline sooner or later. that said, it is still very profitable for Apple, and the brand is still stupidly strong. it will most likely stay like that for a few more years at least.

    this is news?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rm999 (775449)
      It is potentially big news.

      "Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst."

      Apple, in many ways, depends on the iPod for its current strength. If the iPod were to suddenly die, Apple would be very, very screwed (the only other product that has mass appeal is the macbooks, and those are not nearly at the same level due to pricing). This is why people have been watching "iPod killers" so closely.

      Personally, this is the first time ever that I would not consider an iPod if I had to repla
  • by josepha48 (13953) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:42PM (#16076422) Journal
    .. you don't need to have another one, unless the first one breaks. Its like TV's. You go out, buy a TV. For most people the next time they buy a TV is when their TV breaks. My TV's have lasted about 10+ years. I'd imagine that the iPod should last at least 3 years.
  • Gasp! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jerf (17166) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:42PM (#16076424) Journal
    Market not infinite. Film at 11.
  • Who wants to be a flocking person? 12 million Ipods, how does that make you feel unique and cool when you have something that everyone is carrying?

    I still haven't bought an Ipod in any form :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Eightyford (893696)
      Who wants to be a flocking person? 12 million Ipods, how does that make you feel unique and cool when you have something that everyone is carrying? I still haven't bought an Ipod in any form :)
      Some people choose electronics for reasons other than status symbols. The only thing worse than going out of your way to fit in is going out of your way to not fit in. IMHO.
    • Who wants to be a flocking person? 12 million Ipods, how does that make you feel unique and cool when you have something that everyone is carrying?

      People get iPods because they're fun and easy to use, not to appear "unique and cool." Whenever someone makes that criticism, they come off--to me anyway--as really bitter and desperate to appear unique and cool themselves by disparaging a popular product.

      I still haven't bought an Ipod in any form :)

      Dude, you are super-cool! It makes you enlightened if you purp

      • Dude, you are super-cool! It makes you enlightened if you purposely skip out on a really good piece of technology!

        I believe you nicely prove my point. I generally don't buy technology I don't have use for; I bought a MP3 player a few years ago which acts for me more as a memory stick then an MP3 player.

        Now why would I then buy an Ipod to not use it? Or when I have an alternative already?

        I bike partially to work, so using some earplugs would make me more detached from my environment which is quite dang

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by teflaime (738532)
      People get mp3 players too be uniqute??? Hmmm. I thought people got MP3 players to play MP3. And to be honest, I haven't found an MP3 player that is as easy to setup and use, with the same kind of capacity as the iPod yet. The Zen tries, but ultimately fails for me. Besides, I like iTunes. But, it all comes down to personal preference. 60 million users like iPods. Fewer than that like the others.
  • by Klaidas (981300) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:44PM (#16076437)
    Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.
    What's to worry about? IT WILL.
    We had cassette walkmans popular. No more.
    We had CD players popular. No more
    We had mp3 players popular. No more
    We have iPods popular. After some time, we will not.
    That's how hardware, software and all the computing works. After some time we will be laughing at those iPods, because we will have something new.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      We had PCs. We still do.
      We had Nintendo Gameboys. We still do.
      We had cell phones. We still do.
      I could go on and on here.

      We had mp3 players popular. No more

      Huh? MP3 players are popular.

      You guys have been predicting for five years now that the iPod was on its way out. I trust that prediction just as much as I trust the predictions you guys made when the iPod mini came out, or when the original iPod came out. Seriously, go back and read the discussion and laugh at how short-sighted people were.

  • Christmas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eightyford (893696) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:44PM (#16076444) Homepage
    I think everyone knows that consumer electronics sell better around Christmas. Comparing holiday season sales to summer sales is like comparing apples to oranges...
  • News Flash! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ochu (877326) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:49PM (#16076467) Homepage
    Analysts in turmoil over "people buy more at Christmas shock"!
    Fireworks makers puzzle over mysterious early-summer surge in demand!
    Sales of Bush/Cheney 04 bumper stickers down 100%!
  • Losing its cool? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vistic (556838) * on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:50PM (#16076469)
    The iPod is not uncool or unhip... the fad isn't over.

    Look around, iPods are everywhere and everyone is happy.

    If sales are declining it's just because we all already have one.

    I personally have a 4th gen 20GB click-wheel iPod. The color screens, video, photos, nano sizes, &c. haven't been enough to make me set aside the iPod I have to get a new one for another few hundred dollars. My iPod works how I expect it to and I'm happy. I won't be upgrading probably until this iPod is either stolen or broken, which I hope won't even ever happen.

    If Apple wants to make people buy a SECOND iPod even though their current iPod works fine, they're going to have to add some compelling new features. I'd buy an iPod phone probably. Not so much because I want my phone and MP3 player in one device (but it would be nice if done properly: one less thing to carry around), but my current Motorola phone is horrible and I have some confidence that Apple would actually make a great phone with a good user interface. Every user interface on every cell phone out there right now is pretty much horrible; Apple could do a lot in this area.

    I might get some sort of cool iPod car stereo. (Currently, I connect my iPod using the headphone jack to the Aux. in on the back of my Sony car stereo using a cable I got from Radio Shack... I'm talking about a REAL iPod car stereo, like a car stereo with a hard drive and wireless so I can send songs to my car in the garage from my computer in the house.) Supposedly there may be a touch-screen iPod coming? A touch-screen alone won't get me to buy another.

    But yeah, iPods are still cool. There is no backlash. All the other MP3 players still are lacking in one way or another. iTunes is still a great way to manage music on the computer. People are happy. Apple has done great.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:50PM (#16076470) Journal
    Q4 03: 336,000
      Q1 04: 733,000 (holiday quarter)
      Q2 04: 807,000
      Q3 04: 860,000
      Q4 04: 2,016,000
      Q1 05: 4,580,000 (holiday quarter)
      Q2 05: 5,311,000
      Q3 05: 6,155,000
      Q4 05: 6,451,000
      Q1 06: 14,043,000 (holiday quarter)
      Q2 06: 8,526,000
      Q3 06: 8,111,000

    We have yet to see a year-over-year decline in sales. It is of course to be expected, that pundits seeking attention will continue to troll with "the sky is falling" articles, just like we'll keep hearing about how every also-ran is an "iPod killer".

    -jcr

    • by Killshot (724273)
      I am sooo sick of those "ipod killer" articles.
      If some new device is shown to actually be killing the ipod.. then it will not be news.

      That said, I still think there is room for growth. I think the ipod is overpriced (as mac products tend to be) and if they cut prices it would open it up to all the people who have not bought one because of the price.
      • by jcr (53032)
        I think the ipod is overpriced (as mac products tend to be)

        Econ 101: it's overpriced if people aren't buying it!

        The results speak for themselves. Just because it's more than you want to pay, doesn't make it overpriced.

        -jcr
        • by Killshot (724273)
          Just because some people are willing to pay a certain price does not mean all people other than myself are willing to.
          That sort of assumption just makes you seem like quite a silly person.
          There are plenty of examples of product prices being cut once market saturation at a certain price point has been reached.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jeff DeMaagd (2015)
      That and it's about due for an update. Some people think that it will be this Tuesday when they have a big media event planned, but it's probably within the month.
  • Or the graph they mention?

    The article doesn't tell me much as this

    [quote]From its launch five years ago its sales graph showed a consistent upward curve, culminating in a period around last Christmas that saw a record 14 million sold. But sales fell to 8.5 million in the following quarter, and down to 8.1 million in the most recent three-month period. Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.[/quote]

    could just mean that iPod sales skyrocket around X-mas time.

    Though perhaps the
  • by potpie (706881) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:52PM (#16076483) Journal
    Serves them right! My girlfriend cancelled on me a few times so she could stay home and play with her new ipod. Then she broke up with me. Rot in hell you vile yet stylish machinations of satan!
    • by gardyloo (512791)
      Serves them right! My girlfriend cancelled on me a few times so she could stay home and play with her new ipod.

            She told me that your random shuffle wasn't very compelling.
  • by jdogg82 (765548) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:52PM (#16076488)
    I think the last time any of the iPod models were updated was last fall. Sales will likely pick up again when there's a new and exciting iPod.
  • by eshefer (12336) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:55PM (#16076501) Homepage Journal
    this is really a crappy article.

    14 million were sold in the crazy-buy-gifts-like-there-is-no-tomorow quarter. If you want to check trends you should look at corrosponding quarters , year over year growth [wikipedia.org].

      guess what? 25% gains year over year... expect apple to sell around 20 million Ipods in the the corrosponding quarter.
  • by Froomb (100183) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @01:57PM (#16076510)
    The statistics cited by the anonymous contributor are deliberately misleading. A better way to look at sales for products having wide variations in season sales is to look at year-on-year figures [macdailynews.com]. By that measure iPod sales continue to rack up healthy gains, and some analysts [forbes.com] believe that that the iPod is in the "early stages of its product expansion" and can continue to grow its sales by at least 20% a year for the forseeable future.


    Q4 03: 336,000
    Q1 04: 733,000 (holiday quarter)
    Q2 04: 807,000
    Q3 04: 860,000
    Q4 04: 2,016,000
    Q1 05: 4,580,000 (holiday quarter)
    Q2 05: 5,311,000
    Q3 05: 6,155,000
    Q4 05: 6,451,000
    Q1 06: 14,043,000 (holiday quarter)
    Q2 06: 8,526,000
    Q3 06: 8,111,000

    • by wootest (694923) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:23PM (#16076662)
      There is a downwards curve here but it has nothing to do with actual popularity decline, just with timing and new models.

      Very late Q1 04, iPod mini was released, very late Q1 05, iPod shuffle was released. No new iPod has been released since the 5G ("video") iPod almost a year ago, and the only thing to up sales a bit has been a 1GB iPod nano in the middle of Q2 06 and a small iPod shuffle price drop.

      Having the other three quarters not reach holiday quarter level is the norm and pretty much the only way you can beat that is by releasing new products directly following the holiday quarter. This year they didn't, and so they declined. This isn't rocket science, and it doesn't point towards or prove an overall continuing decline.
    • I agree that generally, year-over-year per quarter comparisons are what is important, but looking at your stats, the last two quarters did show decline over the previous quarter *for the first time in iPod history*. I had assumed that each of the previous years, there was a spike during the holiday quarter, then a decline, followed by a larger spike the next holiday quarter. But that hasn't been the case. Every quarter has shown a gain over the previous quarter even if that previous quarter was a holiday
  • by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr.hotmail@com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:01PM (#16076541) Homepage
    Couple of reasons, in no order of importance:

    - Backlight died after a few weeks.
    - Durable construction? You could scratch the screen with cotton.
    - "Innovative" touch pad.. try scrolling through ten thousand songs precisely. Not. Happening.
    - iTunes (though it's easily circumventable)
    - Overall versatility only increases when you hax0r it (this might actually be a plus ;P)
    - Price

    TLF
    • "Innovative" touch pad.. try scrolling through ten thousand songs precisely. Not. Happening.

      I got an iPod Shuffle and gave my iPod Mini to my daughter precisely because the touch wheen is such a horrid user interface, and the D-pad on the shuffle is so much more practical for 99% of the uses.

      Apple needs to get together with Sony and do an iPod that has a jog-wheel and a D-pad but is otherwise an iPod... syncs with iTunes, plays AAC and protected AAC files, and so on.
  • Fool me once... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by B5_geek (638928) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:03PM (#16076553)
    Here are my ideas why sales are slowing.

    1) battery life - Enough people have been 'burned' by the poor preformance of the built-in battery. (My wife's 40Gb player only lasts 30 minutes before the battery is dead) That don't think that $100-$300 every couple of years is worth it.

    2) market saturation - How many people who would like to have a portable music player, haven't heard of an ipod?

    3) price/format/additional features - I recently bought an iRiver T30 (1GB) It can play .ogg (which I use for audiobooks) and a single AAA battery lasts 30+ hours. Many other 'new' MP3 players have built-in FM-tuners, FM-transmitters, etc. that are costly additions to an ipod.

    4) no real reason to upgrade. The writing is on the wall for that popularity of hand-held video players, the video ipod is close, but the format (screen size/dimensions) of the PSP are damn near perfect. The first company to make an non-crippled divx/xvid/mpeg4/mp3 player will do good.

  • by Val314 (219766) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:05PM (#16076565)
    ... the last iPod Update was October 12, 2005 according to http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/ [macrumors.com] and everyone is waiting for the new one?
  • ... Maybe everone that wanted to buy an iPod already has one. The rest of us are entier indecisive or don't really care for an iPod.
  • Bubble? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:06PM (#16076573) Homepage
    Must everything be a bubble now?

    The stock market was a bubble because everyone that bought stock inflated the price of stock for everyone else, making it look like a better growth opportunity for investment. The housing market was a bubble because everyone that bought houses inflated the prices of housing and the resultant appearance of investment opportunity similarly. And when both of which become too big, the bubble burst as there was nothing quite supporting the inflated prices and value plummetted.

    The iPod does not exhibit bubble-like qualities. The iPod is a thing. Someone buying an iPod does not inflate the price for everyone else. As a thing with utility, the iPod cannot instantly decline in usefulness like a stock can.

    The bubble is a useful analogy in certain investment situations. But let's not go pretexting it into conversation inappropriately.
  • The design, simplicity, and direction Apple gave the first generations of iPods were probably a big part in their success. But I think at this point, they should seriously consider opening up the platform to third party developers and making it really easy to develop new apps for it. That way, the market can determine what features people like on their iPods, rather than Jobs.
  • What "bubble"? A fart would generate a bigger bubble!
  • But sales fell to 8.5 million in the following quarter, and down to 8.1 million in the most recent three-month period. Wall Street is reportedly starting to worry that the bubble will burst.'"
    T
    You mean to say that iPod sales were lower in the 7 months following the holiday season?? Ne freakin' way!!

    Ms. Cleo could have predicated that...
    • by Jahz (831343)
      After reading TFA, I have to say that it is a pretty worthless doomsday article.

      My favorite line:

      ...while other consumers who had bought iPods more recently had not even taken theirs out of the package to set it up.

      Who drops $300 on an iPod and then does not take it out of the box?? I think they interviewed grandparents who got iPods from their kids or something...

      A close second was the sentence immediately preceeding that one:

      some long-time iPod-users told us that they have stopped updating their iPods be

  • Of course there are some basic answers like "all those who are interested in one now own one".

    But I think the biggy is apples fault and gets worse with every generation. Feature Creep. The iPod was designed right at first. It did one thing and did it very well, play music. They keep adding features that have nothing to do with music, like photos, video and such. It's diluting what the thing is. Non of those things make it play music better, but they do clog the interface up more and make it overall a m
  • ... is a complete and utter waste of bandwidth. "Sales are declining at an unprecedented rate."

    Bullsh1t. Look at all of iPod's quarterly sales:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPod#Sales [wikipedia.org]

    Take out the massive spike for fiscal '06 Q1 and you have a very healthy, ordinary looking sales curve. Are we to think that Apple is in full-blown panic mode just because they aren't moving 10 million units a month? I find that very hard to believe.
  • The economy is going through a bubble, not just the iPod. The decline in sales is indicative of an economy in turmoil and it only stands to get worse.

    This Christmas I'll be holding sign outside the mall entrances that say "How in debt are you?"

    At this point I don't think there's any turning back. We might as well let the bankers brand our asses and round us up together in the back-40 somewhere.
  • by delete (514365) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @02:58PM (#16076853)
    'Phones are outselling dedicated MP3 players by six to one. Apple had the market for MP3, but they lost it.'

    Before anyone takes this article too seriously, it's worth examining the credentials of the "expert" quoted in the article. Tomi Ahonen is a self-declared "technology strategy consultant", whose primary field of consultancy is wireless and mobile telecoms [tomiahonen.com]. Last year he predicted that mobile games consoles would also be crushed by mobile phone usage [msn.com]. The weak PSP represented an easy target, I'm not so sure that the iPod is as passé as he would have us believe.

    If anyone has any doubt regarding Tomi's views, look no further than his blog [blogs.com]. Clearly he has a vested interest in seeing the iPod fail, so take his opinions with large doses of salt.
  • by 47Ronin (39566) <(moc.ninor74) (ta) (nnelg)> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @04:12PM (#16077153) Homepage
    All you have to do is compare the year-over-year numbers. Q3 may be low every year, but the numbers get larger year-over-year. The guys at the Guardian obviously understand NOTHING about market and fiscal trends.

    iPod unit sales:

    ----- 2004
    Q4 03: 336,000
    Q1 04: 733,000 (holiday quarter)
    Q2 04: 807,000
    Q3 04: 860,000
    Q4 04: 2,016,000

    ----- 2005
    Q1 05: 4,580,000 (holiday quarter)
    Q2 05: 5,311,000
    Q3 05: 6,155,000
    Q4 05: 6,451,000

    ----- 2006
    Q1 06: 14,043,000 (holiday quarter)
    Q2 06: 8,526,000
    Q3 06: 8,111,000
  • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday September 10, 2006 @05:58PM (#16077573) Homepage Journal

    It is interesting to me that so many Slashdot readers are taking it as a given that the analysts are correct on this one, even though the latter(and many Slashdot readers as well) have been wrong about the iPod pretty much every step of the way, and have a long history of not really grokking Apple. I agree that Apple needs to do something new, either by coming out with a completely new product that leapfrogs ahead of the iPod, or by some other means.

    But the problem with forecasts like this is that they never take into account human creativity. The default assumption is that the engineers and designers at Apple (or any other company they examine) can't possibly come up with anything to supplant the currently successful product. Given Apple's track record since the return of Jobs, I'm willing to bet that the company's best days are not behind it.

    The Halo Effect of iPod sales is very real. Macs, particularly laptops, have made an impressive comeback. You can bet they'll do more with the Intel-powered Macs than they're letting on now. The iTMS has been a huge success, and Apple can use that to springboard into a variety of media distribution plans, depending on where they want to take it. My guess is that when Apple introduces the new video service, there will be more to it than most pundits have predicted.

    Particularly, I see Apple finally bringing consumers a truly easy way to snag video content via the Internet and play it back on a variety of devices easily. Integration isn't just about bringing technology to bear on a problem; it's also about making the technology easy enough for John Q. Public to use. With the success of the iPod, the buying public looks to Apple for easy to use media playback devices.

    My predictions are, of course, not any more valuable than those from Wall Street. However, I am continually struck by the limited the range of vision of the Wall Street analysts, and by how frequently people actually listen to them.

  • by Karlt1 (231423) on Sunday September 10, 2006 @07:59PM (#16077945)
    "Other complaints are that iTunes [Apple's online music store] is overpriced"

    Overpriced compared to what? Free pirated music? All of the music stores that sell non-Indie music is seling for 99c accept for Walmart and Walmart is behind ITunes, Rhapsody, and Napster.

    "In our ethnography interviews, some long-time iPod-users told us that they have stopped updating their iPods because it's too much work"

    Using both Macs and Windows XP you just plug it in. Why couldn't they give a specific percentage of people?

    " while other consumers who had bought iPods more recently had not even taken theirs out of the package to set it up.'"

    Again no real numbers

    "Analysts warn that the iPod has passed its peak. From its launch five years ago its sales graph showed a consistent upward curve, culminating in a period around last Christmas that saw a record 14 million sold."

    During the fourth calendar quarter sells of consumer items peak --- news at 11. That's why economist compare on a "seasonally adjusted basis".

    "He cited new mobile phones with improved MP3 players as the cause of the iPod's dwindling appeal"

    http://news.com.com/Mobile+content+not+clicking+wi th+consumers/2100-1026_3-6113998.html?tag=nefd.top [com.com]

    10% -- users who buy ringtones for mobile phones
    0.4% -- users who paid for video
    28% -- 15 million subscribers downloaded some type of content

    So who are all of these people buying music from their cellphone?

    I have a Samsung a900 that plays MP3 and AAC formatted music as well as Sprint's music store music. I can transfer music from my Mac using either Bluetooth or the included usb cable. The interface is decent but music drains the battery life. On top of that I have only 80MB to store music on. Even on Sprint's other phones that do accept a MicroSD card you can only get up to 2GB. I'll keep my Nano.

"Most of us, when all is said and done, like what we like and make up reasons for it afterwards." -- Soren F. Petersen

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