July 17, 2015
On Wednesday, Apple introduced the new, sixth-generation iPod Touch, which now offers an A8 chip – with 900 percent faster graphics and 500 percent better CPU. It's amazing; it's fantastic; it's greatest iPod Touch yet; however, it's not going to do anything for Apple's iPod sales – which has been on a rapid decline since 2008.
According to data compiled by Silk.co, Apple's iPod sales have declined every year since 2008 – the same year it released it released its iPod Touch 2 and only a year after it released the initial iPod Touch. In 2008, overall Apple iPod sales reached 54.83 million, followed by a slight decrease to 54.13 million in the following year. In 2010, we start to see a further decline to 50.31 million. And, in 2011, we see a steep decline to 42.62 million – with that same rate of decline still prevalent to this day.
The steep decline starting in 2010, though, can easily be explained with actions from Apple itself. In mid-2008, the company introduced the iPhone 3G – which was a massive improvement on its initial iPhone – and saw a huge increase in sales of the iPhone; additionally, this was followed by the iPhone 3GS in 2009. The cultural shift towards a sharp increase in smartphone adoption could partially be attributed to the release of these iPhone models. At the end of 2008, smartphone penetration stood at 14 percent in the United States; by the time Apple introduced the iPhone 4 in 2010, 31 percent of Americans were using smartphones.
And changing ethos towards smartphone use is the primary reason why Apple's new iPod Touch will affect the company's sales of the iPod: we've become a society that's become reliant on smartphones. In a world of the smartphone, an iPod that lacks certain phone capabilities simply cannot compete. Especially at a starting price of $199 for a 16GB version, a new iPod Touch is priced similarly to that of a new iPhone 6 (for a new contract, of course); for many consumers, it simply doesn't make any sense to fork over the same one-time costs for a product that offers less features.
But – what do you think? Should Apple retire the iPod? Does it no longer serve a greater purpose in the age of the smartphone?
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