No one cares about the MP3 player market anymore

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In light of the TouchPad’s death (essentially) at just 49 days old, I published a piece this morning about how the iPad is steamrolling rival tablets.

We wanted to make a comparison to the MP3 player market, where Apple similarly crushed the competition. So I reached out to the usual suspects — IDC, Gartner, Forrester, etc. — for current stats on the market.

To my surprise (these firms usually have more data and PDF’d reports than one could ever need), none of them seem to be tracking the market.

"I just took over this role [following music players], and I’m afraid my predecessor hadn’t updated her numbers in more than a year," one analyst emailed. "Unfortunately we do not have that data," another said simply.

Scanning the interwebs was similarly fruitless, as it seems everyone stopped caring about music player stats by late 2009. More recent articles and blog posts say the iPod retains a 70% market share, but I can’t find reports to back those claims. (I did get one analyst to assert an estimate: “north of 65%” in the U.S.)

Sure, iPod sales have fallen for the past three fiscal years, as the chart above explains (more on that here). Yes, the proliferation of iPhones and other smartphones have cannibalized the market. But Apple is still moving tens of millions of these things per year, so I’m pretty taken aback that this space is irrelevant enough now that analysts aren’t even watching it.

It doesn’t feel like long ago that I first tried my high school friend’s iPod. I was amazed. The click wheel! The sleek little (ha; looking back, it seems huge) device! The bitmappy font!

Such is the lifespan of any gadget, of course, and the iPod is far from dead. Still, it does get me wondering: How soon will analysts stop tracking the tablet market, or smartphones as we know them? Isn’t it weird to think of those “zomg so innovative” devices as yet another piece of obsolete junk in the drawer? -Julianne

IPod would have cost $3.2 billion in 1976

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Photo courtesy: Apple

The cost of the transistor has been lowered by a factor of about 20 million over the past 35 years, according to Om Nalamasu, chief technology officer for Applied Materials. 

That means at 1976 transistor prices, an iPod would cost $3.2 billion to manufacture. Despite the iPod being a “magical” device, even Steve Jobs would find it difficult to justify buying one at that price. -David

The sounds of silence

Noting that nobody posted anything new this morning. So I am guessing that the CNNMoney tech team is either re-donkulously busy or we’re all scratching our heads trying to top Dave Goldman’s homage to “Zoolander” on Friday.

Okay. I’ll bite.

Apple reports earnings after the closing bell Monday. It’s safe to say that investor expectations are insanely high. The stock was up slightly again Monday to hit yet another all-time high. Apple’s shares have now surged more than 50% in 2010.

Analysts are projecting that earnings per share will surge 62% and that sales will skyrocket 91%. Can Apple possibly live up to the hype? Probably. As any long-time watcher of Apple knows, the company typically goes out of its way to low-ball investors with expectations that it should have no problem surpassing.

But that brings us to what will happen to Apple’s stock after hours today once investors are done celebrating the strong earnings and look ahead to guidance. Analysts currently are forecasting that Apple will report earnings per share of $5.04 in the quarter that ends in December. They expect sales to come in at $22.2 billion.

If Apple’s forecast is below these targets, the stock could pull back as investors do their classic case of selling on the news. Then again, Apple could keep climbing even higher. Because — to wrap up with one of the few Zoolander quotes Dave didn’t use — the relationship between investors and Steve Jobs is just like Hansel and Derek. (Once they put their rivalry aside of course.)

"I friggin’ worship you, man!" - Paul

Even Woz got a shout-out at yesterday’s Apple music showcase, but the iPod Classic went utterly unmentioned. Over on MacRumors a fan blasted Apple for “not, at least, saying goodbye to the device that put them on the map.” 
It’s still for sale on Apple’s website and may yet have a long life ahead (we’ve put in calls to Apple — no word back yet), but the discussion prompted us to take a look at what the original iPod did for Apple’s sales. Turns out that it wasn’t until the smaller, cheaper Mini appeared that iPod sales really took off. -Stacy

Even Woz got a shout-out at yesterday’s Apple music showcase, but the iPod Classic went utterly unmentioned. Over on MacRumors a fan blasted Apple for “not, at least, saying goodbye to the device that put them on the map.” 

It’s still for sale on Apple’s website and may yet have a long life ahead (we’ve put in calls to Apple — no word back yet), but the discussion prompted us to take a look at what the original iPod did for Apple’s sales. Turns out that it wasn’t until the smaller, cheaper Mini appeared that iPod sales really took off. -Stacy