No one cares about the MP3 player market anymore


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