Wednesday, January 2, 2013

MP3 Players Are Dead

Quarterly iPod Sales image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
What was once a hot business sector now looks to be going the way of the CD player and cassette deck as sales for MP3 players have plummeted over the last year. Although that part of the electronics business is still a somewhat signifanct revenue stream, it's going down fast.

According to numerous sources, sales in the UK have dropped 22% in the last year alone, and Apple has found their global iPod sales down a full 19%. That figure still meant sales of 5.3 million units in the last quarter, but you can see the trend here.

All this sounds pretty ominous for music, right? Well it turns out that people are still listening to more music than ever, just on a different device. That's right, there are more than 1 billion smart phones in use around the world and that's what people are doing most of their listening with. What's more, consulting firm Strategy Analytics believes that figure will double in the next two years.

So say goodbye to the device that saved the music business, and hello to the one that may save it again.

How many of you haven't made the transition to a smart phone yet?


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Rollasoc said...

The problem I have with smart phones is storage and battery life.

I have a 64GB ipod, which I'm regularly having to take things off to put new stuff on. It is too small for my needs.

My Lumia phone is 8GB with about 3GB free. That would never work as a mp3 player for me.

Plus my phone barely lasts a day as it is, without constant music playing through it.

I think the day will come when a smartphone will make me happy and I won't have to carry multiple devices around, but we are a little way off that at the moment!

Jef Knight said...

I'm the biggest techie I know, being a recording studio guy an' all...but I don't have a smart phone. I don't have a mobile phone at all. Don't wear a watch either. LOL

But I do have an mp3 player, which I love. An Edirol that I couldn't live without.

I guess I'd better make a new space in my Musuem of Antiquated Technology for the mp3 players.

But, really, we knew this was coming, right? The swiss army knife of communication/entertainment devices was pretty predictable.

Communi-tainment devices?


Rand Bliss said...

I can appreciate the importance of the latest modern tech and how any tools can be used for both good and bad, but coming from someone with an old-fashioned and traditional mind-set on most things music - this is depressing news.

Seeing the forest for the trees; convenience is becoming the priority at the expense of quality - again. And I thought CD's were a waste of ear-space...

Ever since music has become digitized into a binary coded imitation-translation of the original analog source, I believe we've all been led on a downhill slide and pushed further away from truly appreciating what music really is as an artform. Now it's become as disposable as a piece of chewing gum that had little flavor to begin with.

Why do they call it 'Classic Rock..Pop..R&B..Jazz..' etc. in the first place? Because it WAS better quality music and sounded better then compared to now. The way music's being played is actually affecting the ideology behind creating, marketing and distributing music itself. Care to join our vicious circle anyone?

Welcome to the 'McDonald's 80 Million Sold' no-risk clone assembly line mentality music business. Just keep pumping it out until it loses all value except for a few pennies here and there for the artists, while the public packs on the pounds of junk-food for their starving ears.

Anonymous said...

(Full disclosure, I work as an Audio Systems engineer for a cell phone chipmaker.)

I'll chime in on the positive side for this trend. First off, you can get 64 gb on your phone now. It may not be enough for some people but it is for a lot of us. Secondly, if you were an mp3 player user, chances are you also had a phone. So you were carrying around two devices and now you can just carry one.

Regarding playback time, it may not be great, but it is an area that will improve. It's a figure of merit for chip makers in this space, and it is continually being improved by going to more efficient amplifier designs and even re-architecting the whole system to reduce power consumption.

And then, if you are worried about quality of playback from a phone, trust me that the technical specs in the audio hardware chips are getting very impressive. We are talking specs that rival pro audio devices.

So maybe it's not ready for prime time for some users, but I totally understand the trend and I doubt it will reverse or slow down anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Battery life in most smartphones is not anywhere near an MP3 player. I enjoy streaming audio and video on my phone but do not want to reload my music collection every time I get a new phone. Even an inexpensive MP3 player should last for years longer than the annual or semiannual basis people replace their cellphones.

Unknown said...

I love my little i pod touch but I will drop it in a nano- second if something better comes along. Oh too late... smart phone for the win.


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