The iPod is dead. Apple announced on 10 May 2022 that it discontinued the iconic consumer electronic device after 21 years. The last model of this device was the iPod Touch and the company said that it will sell this product as long as supplies last.
Note that the iPod was one of the most successful products of Apple and has remained one of the most iconic products of the modern consumer electronics industry.
One of its legacies is that it revolutionized the music industry and helped paved the way for digital music alongside the introduction and prominence of iTunes. It was also the predecessor to the iPhone. But why exactly did Apple discontinue the iPod?
Reasons Why Apple Discontinued the iPod
Apple did not disclose the exact reasons why it discontinued the iPod. However, based on information available to the public, the primary reason centers on obsolescence as evident from the decline in sales. A better way to understand the reasons Apple discontinued the iPod is to look at the factors leading to its obsolesce.
Product Obsolescence Due To Changing Product Portfolio of Apple
There are several factors that made the iPod an obsolete product. The first is the popularity of other Apple products such as the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch. These devices are mobile consumer electronic devices that feature the same music playback capabilities of the iPod with additional and more beneficial features.
Even products such as the entire Mac line of desktop and laptop computers, the Apple TV, and the HomePod have music playback features. Apple noted in a statement that the spirit of its iconic product lives on these devices and they have integrated the “incredible music experience” across all of its relevant products.
The popularity of music streaming services such as Apple Music and its rivals including Spotify and YouTube Music has also rendered portable music players obsolete. These streaming services have become more accessible due to the deep market penetration of relevant devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
Note that music streaming services are also more convenient than portable music players. Tracks are available on-demand without the need to download. These tracks can be downloaded as well. Furthermore, the track libraries or playlists created by a particular user are accessible across different platforms or devices ranging from phones to desktop computers.
Cost Considerations in Production and Potentials for Profits
The sales of the iPod peaked in 2008 or a year after the release of the first iPhone. Apple sold 54.8 million units of this portable music player in that year alone. However, there was a notable decline starting from 2009 to 2011. Substantial declines transpired starting in 2012 and the sales dropped to less than a quarter of total units sold in 2008 come 2015.
It is also interesting to note that another indicator of the diminishing popularity of this iconic Apple product was the repositioning of iTunes. The company announced during the 2019 Worldwide Developers Conference that it would dismantle the software into several apps including Apple Music, Apple Podcast, and Apple TV.
The iPod and iTunes worked in tandem. The latter is both a media player and multimedia content management application used to purchase songs and put them in the portable music player. It cannot be denied that the intentional demise of this application is an acknowledgment of the fact that portable music players have become obsolete.
Of course, it would be difficult for Apple to continue producing and selling the iPod. The poor sales performance of the device has hurt its profitability because it has become production has become more expensive. Apple takes advantage of economies of scale and high-volume production. Its products need to be produced in high volumes.
Further Note on the Death of the iPod
From the aforesaid discussions, the reasons why Apple discontinued the iPod center on the fact that it has become an obsolete product due to the changing or evolving product portfolio of the company and the developments in market trends and consumer preferences.
Portable music players are not as popular as before because even smartphones and tablets have the same functionalities. Music streaming services have also become the norm with more than 400 million subscribers across the world.
It does not make sense for Apple to produce this product anymore. The truth is that the introduction of the iPhone and other products such as the iPad, Apple Music, and Apple Watch has cannibalized the sales of the iPod.
Furthermore, it also does not make sense for the average consumer to purchase a separate device for portable music if their smartphones can do the same thing. Doing so is impractical because it means additional cost and additional clutter.