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The Rise and Fall of the iPod: Deals Become Scarce, Dropping 50% in a Year

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By , dealnews Senior Feature Writer

The iPod's reign is coming to an end. Plummeting sales, the rise of other convergence devices, and Apple's own iPad are all contributing to the iPod's rapid decline.

In the company's just-released fiscal third quarter results, the once flagship product saw a 10% decline year-over-year for that quarter, selling just 6.8 million units. By comparison, iPhone and iPad sales skyrocketed at 26 million and 17 million, respectively. So is this the inglorious end for the once status-symbol device? That's what some critics think. Below is our take on the fall of Apple's star player.

iPod Deals Become Scarce, Dropping 50% in a Year

At the height of its popularity in 2007, Apple was capable of shipping 22 million iPods during the holidays. An impressive feat considering the company had pushed 21 million iPods during the holidays in 2006. Fast-forward to Christmas 2011 and things begin to look bleak as Apple was only able to sell 15.4 million iPods.

The sharp decline was also noticeable here at dealnews. This past Black Friday, iPod deals weren't as abundant as previous years. In fact, compared to November and December of 2010, this past holiday season saw 50% fewer iPod deals.

And whereas the iPod has generally been a highly sought-after device any time of the year, this summer we noticed a 5% decline in clicks (which we equate with interest) for iPod deals compared to the number of clicks we saw over the holiday season. So not only are iPod sales slowly winding down, but even reader interest in the iPod appears to be weakening.

Waning Popularity Could Spell Aggressive Prices

That's potentially good news for bargain hunters as they'll now see more aggressive discounts (even if they're less frequent) on the current-generation iPods. Even Apple knocked $30 off the entry level price of the iPod, a rare move by the Cupertino giant that's infamous for its frugality.

So what prices should consumers look for? For starters, $146 has been the all-time low we've seen on a current-generation 8GB iPod touch (back in November). The best deal we've seen in 2012 has been $169. So we'd suggest looking for a deal under $169, but expect to see prices go as low as $146, if not lower, in the coming months.

Meet the New iPod

The iPod has been one of Apple's most successful products. It pushed the company into rockstar status and helped the tech giant become what it is today. However, Apple has moved onto greener pastures and its current golden child is the iPhone. Whereas we haven't seen a major iPod refresh in two years, the iPhone has received an update each year since its inception. And you can bet this fall when Apple announces the iPhone 5, the iPod touch will be just a footnote in Apple's presentation. After all, Apple doesn't like talking about its weak spots, and right now the iPod is the weakest it's ever been.

Ready to own a piece of gadget history? In addition to checking out our MP3 player deals for the latest iPod sales, you can set up an email alert to be immediately notified when we post those projected aggressive iPod deals.

Front page photo credit: apartment therapy
Photo credits top to bottom: Food is Worse, BBC.co.uk



An avid gadget lover, Louis Ramirez has covered technology for Gizmodo, CNET, Laptop, and various other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @LouisRamirez

Follow @dealnews for the latest roundups, price trend info, and stories. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.


Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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6 comments
noni842
Admittedly, Apple doesn't update some of its products very often (Mac Pro. iPod Touch, iPod Classic), but they still sold 10 million iPod Touch's in 2011 (down from 13 million in 2010).  The rumored iPad Mini (along with the iPhone and iPad) will further erode the sales of the iPod Touch, but I think they'd ax the iPod Classic before the iPod Touch, unless they replace it altogether with a new, comparable iOS device.   

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I imagine the iPod Touch will stay around several more years and I hope to buy one.  Still, I wish the SoC would stay in line with the iPhone, but those are probably reserved for the more profitable iPad and iPhone.

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TexasAggies2012
The Ipod touch is the PERFECT toy, gift, gaming device, music player, Movie player for kids. I strongly disagree that this device will be going away. 
dvortex
I have no desire to pay thru the nose for a data plan.  The touch and my old moto razr are just fine, thank you very much.  With wifi almost everywhere why would I want an iPhone?  That is the nitch for touch ... not smaller iPad.
dealnews-Louis
I used to think the same way. How could Apple kill the iPod? But the truth is -- Apple is evolving as a company. What put them in the spotlight 5 yrs ago, is now being replaced by the iPhone / iPad. By now most ppl aren't shopping for MP3 players. You either own an iPod or you have another MP3-playing device you like. And with smartphone ownership on the rise -- there's even less of a need for an MP3 player. True, most parents wouldn't get an iPhone for a 5-yr old, but what's to stop them from getting little junior a $0 Android phone that plays MP3s etc. The signs are there. 17" MacBook Pro.  Mac Pro.  And the iPod. It's getting harder to justify them in Apple's lineup. 
dave.dynamo
Uh, I seriously doubt the iPod TOUCH is going anywhere!  Sheesh, where do these "journalists" get these ideas!  While I agree with married2lori that users want a smaller iPad to compete against the Kindle, Nook and other devices, people want something they can carry in a pocket, and not everyone is willing to pend $600 for an iPhone - which is what it costs without a plan!  People are buying iPod Touch devices for 5-year olds, nobody but an idiot would buy those kids a phone.
married2lori
That the iPod touch has any sales at all is proof that the consumer wants a smaller iPad.  If Apple were to make a 6" - 7" pocket sized iPad (especially if it would sync itself with a users 10" iPad, allowing users to move seamlessly from one to the other) it would be a must have accessory for their diehard fans.
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