Apple should dump the iPod touch or something

“When it comes to portable media players, there’s no product I could recommend more highly than an iPod Touch [sic]. The trouble is, no one asks me for recommendations anymore,” Donald Bell writes for CNET. “When people catch me using an iPod Touch, I’m met with mixture of awe and confusion. The awe comes from the assumption that it’s some kind of svelte concept smartphone from the future. At less than a half an inch thick, the iPod Touch makes the iPhone 4 look like a hamburger.”

“There was a time when the word ‘iPod’ sent trembles through an entire industry. A time when products bearing the name conferred a feeling of smug rock stardom onto their owners. But those days are gone,” Bell writes. “At last count, iPod sales made for just 5 percent of Apple’s revenue, down from 12 percent the preceding year. Apple still has a 70 percent share of the MP3 player market, but it’s a shrinking market no one cares about anymore.”

Bell writes, “Better, I think, to retire this iPod with dignity than to hasten its fade into obscurity. Apple can make a better device, and the company has always done well to prune away products that no longer make its customers excited. It’s time for the iPod Touch to step down and make room for something exceptional.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: First off, it’s “iPod touch.” If you’re going to be calling for its death, you should at least get the name right. Secondly, Apple sold 15.4 million iPods in its fiscal 2012 first quarter which ended December 31, 2011 for revenue of $2.528 billion. During the quarter, iPod touch continued to account for over half of all iPods sold or, in other words, $1.264 billion. Flushing away $1.264 billion for no good reason doesn’t make much sense unless you work for CNET, Microsoft’s “R&D” department, or the government. Yes, believe it or not, there is still a market for a thin, light, Multi-Touch™ iPod for myriad uses (gym, car, etc.) with which we are all very familiar.

61 Comments

  1. as Apple Inc grows larger and larger iPod & AppleTV become rounding errors to the much bigger iPhone/iPad/Mac market

    these are viable businesses in their own right (1 billion +). The engineering work is minimal to keep it.

    1. Exactly. For some reason it is expected for Apple products to vigorously compete with each other. If the Dell DJ Ditty (who in the hell named that thing) would have sold even remotely close to the numbers that the iPod touch does, then Dell would be raving about it in it’s earnings statements today (and Mikey wouldn’t look quite an inept as he does at running the company).

      Having 70+ percent of a market is amazing, and the only reason “no one cares about it anymore” is because Apple has completely dominated it. As you said, just the iPod touch sales alone would be a viable business.

      Also, when the reason the market is shrinking is due to your own doing (even more profitable iPhone sales) there is certainly nothing to worry about, and it doesn’t make sense to kill it off, or to introduce something earth shatteringly new – just continue to make refinements (expand storage, etc).

      Apple will continue to make iPods until it isn’t profitable enough for them to anymore. It’s as simple as that.

      I guess he had a deadline to meet and had to write something. I feel sorry for these guys – it must suck to be forced to write even when you know you don’t have anything worthwhile to write about.

  2. Donald Bell is a bonehead. First, as has been pointed out many times in this forum, every Apple iOS device contains an embedded iPod. Second, a billion or two is a lot of money, even if it is only 1/20th of the growing annual revenue for Apple. Apple probably makes more annual profit from the iPod touch than most companies make from their entire operations. Third, there are many people who want the focused functionality provided by the iPod touch who are not going to sign up for an iPhone and a two-year contract, or pay for an unlocked iPhone. The relationship between the iPod touch and the iPhone is somewhat similar to the relationship between the iPad Wi-Fi and the iPad Wi-Fi+4G. My family owns four iPod touches and now we have an iPad Wi-Fi. Can you tell that I hate spending $1200 or more a year for a cell phone plan with data?

    Donald Bell is a bonehead.

      1. Yeah, I didn’t fact check the statement in the article that said:

        “At last count, iPod sales made for just 5 percent of Apple’s revenue…”

        I just used the 5% number. I should have said a “small fraction” of Apple’s annual revenues.

  3. Bell has missed a large market segment. My young son uses his iPod touch religiously. As do many of his friends. They’re too young for iPhones [and a data plan for which I’d have to pay!], so the touch is perfect. It allows them to play music, and far more importantly, download all the latest games — which they play constantly for a day or two or three. A small-ish market, to be sure, but why not capture their [my] dollars and lock them in to the iDevice world?

    1. Exactly. Even MDNs take missed that point with “gym, car, etc.”.

      It’s perfect for children, and they are a huge and important market.

      Funny thing is even if they have access an iPad, iPod touch and your old iPhone… They’ll still want to play with MY damn iPhone for some reason!

  4. The iPod touch line is raggedy old and out of touch, so to speak. Its 3.5″ screen is barely passable for a media consumption device. Sales figures for the touch at 7.7 million units is barely more than 2.5 million units of the Amazon Kindle Fire which sold 5 million units in the last quarter. This speaks for a larger touchscreen device in the region of 7.85″. If Apple priced it right, say $249, it’ll revive the iPod touch line and sell like hot cakes.

    So it’s time to retire the 3.5″ iPod touch and resurrect a 7.85″ version of it.

    1. Wish on.
      Personally I like the promise of the iPod Classic as a high-capacity, embeddable, media device. I’ve had one virtually permanently in my car connected to an iPod smart stereo system. I love it but think it can be improved.
      I would like to see it have greater capacity and Apple work with car makers to make better interfaces to it.

    2. Kindle’s sold or shipped? And what about the returns? As stated above, why retire a product that costs nothing to engineer, design or research or advertise while it adds to your revenue base, visibility and flexibility of usage? Where’s the downside?

    3. You obviously don’t own or use a Touch… at least not like normal people. It has its own place. Who’s going to carry a 7.85″ device wherever and whenever they go- on a bike, for a walk, in your car?…

    4. Yeah, yeah, we get it, you’re a size freak. Now quit trying to impose your psychological overcompensation for a small “endowment” onto an entire massively successful multinational corporation.

    5. Huh? I can see why you’re not in product development.

      To try to insinuate that a 7″ tablet and a personal, portable, multitouch iPod are direct competitors is insane.

      Also, if you think it is a concern that they “only” sold 7.7 million profitable devices – or “only” 2.5 million units more than the loss leader Kindle Fire (that it doesn’t even directly compete with), well… I think Dell is looking to hire you as a strategist. You’ll fit right in.

    6. I don’t want some big friggin 7.85″ device on my hip when I am working out in the gym or riding my bike. Why does Apple have to retire the smaller device in favor of a bigger device?

    7. When are you going to SHUT THE FUCK UP about the damned screen size? Nobody, other than a size-obsessed half-wit like you would carry around a music player of that size. Nobody. It’s hopelessly oversize for any practical daily use. I have a 64Gb iPad; it has no music on it, nor will it ever have. I use it at home, with Remote, to control my Mac Mini’s 102Gb of music. To carry music, I use either my iPhone, which at 32Gb and with loads of maps and photos on board, has a barely acceptable 12Gb of music, so I always have my 160Gb Classic with me, that has the same library as the Mini, at 102Gb, and growing. Until Apple produce a Flash memory player with more than 160Gb on board then the Classic is the only acceptable portable player for me. And it fits into a shirt pocket, which Balmers Fuckwit Offspring could never do with a 7.85″ Touch.
      Not that that size is without merit, I’d consider one, but more for map-based navigation and as an ebook reader.

  5. Everything in the MDN Take plus add a GPS. Use all cell phone spectrum to provide ubiquitous, cheap WiFi. FaceTime everything.

    The iPod touch is the first round in the post-phone mobile communications industry.

  6. Somewhere in there he may have sort of a point (note how carefully I have couched that statement so as to avoid implying that he may be even half-right).

    It is obvious that the iPod business is in its decline. That decline will likely continue, so the logical question is just exactly WHEN (not IF) will Apple be compelled to kill the iPod line.

    There are two possible conditions:

    1. The relative percentage of revenue/profits that the iPod line contributes to the bottom line should become insignificant enough (perhaps 1%)
    2. Apple’s dominant position in the market space (PMPs) remains undisputed until the end.

    I have no doubt that the iPod line will soon die. How soon? Perhaps 3 – 4 more years, but not many more than that.

  7. More and more people are actually using their iPhone as an iPod which it basically is. But I don’t think Apple will retire their iPod touch. They will find ways to improve and make it better than it was.

  8. They’re only selling 40M iPods a year with accessories, apps and media generating extra profit not to mention the halo effect these generate. Clearly Apple needs to stop this.

    Sent from my iPod.

  9. I don’t know about dumping it, but Apple really should consider upgrading it with a faster processor, even more memory or an edge-to-edge display. iPods used to mean something for Apple, but I guess that is no longer the case. Too bad. I guess Apple thinks it’s good enough as it is since it has no competition, so why bother. Maybe iPod sales are really in the dump with no chance of coming back.

  10. Obviously the author doesn’t have any kids.

    To my 11 year old, the iPod touch IS his first phone. He just needs to be around wifi which is actually much less restrictive than the landlines I grew up with. iMessage, facetime,skype who needs actual cell/voice service or sms?

    It’s sales only look small because iPhone (and increasingly iPad) have become so huge.

    The good news is that I’m sure at least a few of the people at Apple DO have kids. Plus Apple only kills products because they can do MUCH better (iPad mini) or they start selling in single digits (XServe.)

    I never put it together until I saw it through my kid’s eyes: all these new Apple software technologies to bypass cell network tolls have really made the iPod touch a scary capable product. And it’s still thousands of songs in your pocket. And Angry Birds to go.

    1. I agree. My son uses his iPod touch every day, both as a gaming device and to call me on FaceTime when I’m at work. No cell data contracts. Better than a landline phone. Why should a company making so much money on a product dump it because… it has other products more popular? What? we should only have one choice of electronics to buy? What is the purpose of CNET anyway? Bell says he is met with awe and confusion because people don’t know that Apple makes music players? Huh? We have several schools here that use it as the student’s primary computing device. The internet is full of nonsense noise. Filter out the trash.

  11. I don’t want to use my iPhone as a player when out walking. I still prefer a dedicated music device. I still use a 2004 60Gb and 160Gb 2007 Classic iPod player. Both still working fine amazingly. My old Sony Walkmans never held up this long. You were lucky to get a year out of them.

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