As an Apple fan, I waited eagerly last night for the financial quarter report, & then this morning for the analysis & comments from the industry & various Apple & tech related websites I follow. While all was fairly rosey in the iPhone & iPad world (sales up, with demand for the 5s being greater than expected - sales were even lost as there wasn't enough availability, but not so much for the 5c, & iPad sales up thanks to the new Air & Retina Mini), & even the Mac world (up 0.7m to 4.8 compared to last year's same quarter), the world of the iPod has not faired too well.
I just read a piece over on my favourite Apple site, iMore.com, by Peter Cohen, talking about the demise of the iPod, & as an iPod owner still, an iPod Classic no less, this got me thinking about the product, what's happening to it, & where it's going.
I'm one of the few people in the world that still owns, & uses on a regular basis, an iPod Classic. I have the 80GB version which holds about 50-60% of my music library. I have the Classic as I like to have a large & diverse chunk of my library with me. Nowadays, the 80GB version isn't cost effective to make/sell, so to try to move people away from the Classic, Apple now only sells the 160GB version on it's website - & even that probably won't be around for too much longer.
The demise of this device, & the rest of the iPod range is fairly simple & down to a couple of main contributing factors; - Saturation point - the iPod, in all it's forms, has been around longer than the iPhone & iPad. It was another revolutionary product from Apple & they have sold millions over the years. But, as we're now finding with smartphones, the product will eventually reach a saturation point - a point whereby the people that want/need one, have one, & therefore the customer base is smaller & sales then start to decrease. - Combine the above with the fact that iPhone & iPad sales are still increasing, as is the smartphone & tablet world in general, & the you can see that the writing has been on the wall for the iPod for a fair while now. People now invest large sums of money on iPhones & iPads, & both these devices, since their first versions, have included an iPod app. An app that replicates an actual iPod & holds/plays all your music & videos. Therefore, why carry around two devices, when you can just carry around one?! - Apple has also been pushing iCloud & iTunes Match for a while now. & while the services aren't perfect, they do offer an alternative to having a large capacity device, while still being able to access all of your music library, no matter how big it is. So much so, that when I bought my iPhone 5 on launch day, I was discussing with an Apple employee about which capacity I wanted. In most retailers they would push you to the largest & most expensive one, but at Apple we talked about iTunes Match, iCloud etc, & I settled on my usual 16GB device.
Most iPod users are what I would call 'general users'. They've got one lying around the house somewhere, it probably isn't a latest model, but they can load music on it & it plays. They'll probably use it when they go to the gym or for a run, or will just stick it on when they're doing the commute to/from work. There aren't that many of us that use it religiously - that don't leave the house without it, that MUST have some kind of music playing no matter whether we're just walking to the shops or flying to the other side of the world. Incidentally enough, when I left the UK to emigrate to Australia, the one thing I forgot in my rush to leave was my iPod (the Classic I still own now). I missed my train & almost missed my one-way flight as I HAD to return back to my house & collect it! Sad, I know.
As we become more reliant on smartphones, we become used to the way in which they fit in to our lives & make things easier & quicker for us. So, again, why would someone need or want to carry around a miniature super-computer which can do practically everything/anything you need, as well as another device just to solely play their music - especially when the first one can do that anyway? Well, unless they're one of the very few like me, they wouldn't & don't - hence why the iPod sales are now slipping in such large numbers.
The iPod will always have a place in Apple's inventory & sales, but it will never be the big earner like it was many years ago. There will still be people buying them as back-up devices, things to have in case they don't want to take their phone, presents for friends/family, & then the likes of me who want to keep their music separate & have a single, dedicated device for it. But, alas, even that is changing. For a couple of years I've been debating increasing the capacity of the iPhone I buy & ditching the iPod (or at least just having it around as a back-up device). There are personal pros & cons to this; - I would have to limit the amount of music I put on the device & would have to curate it accordingly (something I like about the Classic - I can just dump everything on there & not worry too much about space) - this would also mean using iTunes more, a thought at which I shudder. - I would struggle for battery life - I listen to music a lot & use my phone a lot. I already barely make it through a day with my 5s' battery, so more drain on it could cause more of an inconvenience. - My iPod is now getting quite glitchy. I've had a couple of occasions where it's just crashed & wiped itself. It also frequently (every 5-10 songs) will just freeze up as I skip through tracks. Having everything on one nice, new device would solve that issue. - As mentioned previously, sheer convenience. No carrying around (or having to remember) two separate devices.
So as I struggle with my first world problems, what do others do? Do you still have/use an iPod? &, if so, which one? Any other Classic users out there?! Do you now just use your smartphone or tablet for music storage?
If you're interested in seeing some of Apple's Q1 2014 financials, head over to iMore.com for some really great coverage & discussion; - iMore show discussing the results - High level review of the Q1 results on one simple page - Tim Cook on the 5s & 5c sales