Recent iPod sales figures (down 52% compared to last year) have led to the inevitable question of whether the portable music player is on life support, with the end very much in sight. It doesn’t look promising for what was once the best-selling gadget around, that’s for sure. So why are sales figures slumping and what sets the smartphone apart? Is the MP3 player doomed?
Smartphones = All-In-One Device
Smartphones can be considered equivalent to computer cabinets of sorts – they hold absolutely everything in one simple package – the only difference is that they are about 1/100thof the size!
Portable MP3 players are much the same, except they’re missing some of the functionality. You can’t make any phone calls, for a start. And while you have access to the same apps, as on your smartphone, you can’t use them while you’re out and about – you need a 3G or 4G connection for that.
So it really is an issue of convenience. Considering these are portable devices, people will do everything to be as light and mobile as possible. If one device can do everything in one, the other is rendered useless.
Superior Hard Drive Space
Even though the smartphone was introduced as an all-in-one miracle when it first came out, the first editions didn’t have the hard drive space to allow it to be the only go-to device for absolutely everyone. Audiophiles in particular, for example, just had too much music for the standard smartphone hard drive. For this reason, many still carried both an MP3 player and a smartphone while away from home.
However, that’s all changing. Superior hard drives on smartphones now make it possible to hold pretty much anything you want. Whether it’s music, films or apps, it’s unlikely you’ll run out of space. It now makes no sense to carry an extra item, as the smartphone has the functions AND space to handle it.
Streaming Music and Film
Mobile data connections have come a long way in recent years. It’s now not necessary to store what we want to listen to and watch – apps such as Spotify make it possible to access music from the cloud, without needing to take up previous hard drive space.
Not only that, 3G and 4G connections are now faster and more reliable than ever. Dropped or lagging streams are problems that are becoming obsolete. Why take an extra device along when you can use your iPhone to stream pretty much anything you want?
Smartphones are Now Affordable
One aspect that kept the music player strong in the face of smartphone competition was the cost. IPods and other MP3 players were simply much cheaper, sometimes up to 80% less expensive.
So even for those that would have preferred a smartphone, it was simply cost-prohibitive. These days, you can get a standard version for a fraction of the cost. Some are even significantly cheaper than top range portable MP3 players.
Unlikely to Make a Comeback
The music player seems to be on its last legs and industry experts don’t expect it to make an unlikely comeback. When Steve Jobsjoked that the iPhone was the “best iPod we ever made”, he was right. And the sales figures are finally starting to reflect that.