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July 24, 2021

Are the iPod's days numbered?

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

There’s a certain level of arrogance we’ve come to accept with Apple.

Their prices are insane, their ads are snarky and their products are often exasperating. (Seriously, why shouldn’t I be able to copy songs from an iPod to my computer?)

Remember David Chase, The Sopranos’  creator, who got so sure of himself he kept shoving those awful Tony dream sequences down our throats no matter how unwatchable they were? That’s Apple right now.

And sure, there may be a teensy  bit of prejudice on the subject here judging by the banner at the top of this screen, but know this: all is not well with the mighty Macintosh.

Hidden in the midst of Apple’s back-patting over its latest impressive quarter is a good level of concern about the company’s once-major cash cow, the iPod.

The popular MP3 player – arguably responsible for Apple’s leap into a modern mega company – appears on the rocks as business dips with no end in sight.

IPod sales were down 11.1% in the fiscal-third quarter this year, 7% from the second and another 7% year over year. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer even admits the trend will continue as features of the iPod are “cannibalized” by the iPhone, which has just about pulled a 2001 Tom Brady to the iPod’s Drew Bledsoe by now.

So what does this tell us about the iPod? Well, likely that its days are numbered, as the folks over at MSN Money think. But it also paints a bigger picture on the stake of Apple as a company.

Revenue from Mac’s desktop computers also plummeted 17.8% in the third quarter, compared to a 1.7% dip for laptops. Mix that up with the near-death of the iPod and MSN’s Charley Blaine believes “if Apple didn’t have the iPhone and its iTunes business, investors would be complaining about stagnant sales.”

Now, is this to suggest Apple is caving in on itself? No, not by a long shot. It’s still an overwhelming company responsible for about a quarter of the world’s cool, hip mass-produced technology.

But it is significant to note a changing of the guard is taking place here. The iPhone has not-so-slowly ripped market share away from the iPod and, with iPhone prices likely to keep falling, the thing’s retail tag will probably soon be cheaper than an iPod anyway.

Consider that, then, the answer to any Why would anyone still buy an iPod?  questions floating around out there, and don’t be surprised if we’re writing the pop culture icon’s obituary within a few years.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...