|Everyone knows that Apple (News - Alert) is dominating the portable music player market with its iPod brand — to the tune of 100 million iPods now having been sold since November 2001, when Apple first introduced its portable mp3 player. In the five and a years since, Apple has introduce a dozen or so models and five generations of the device, including the video iPods, the sleek iPod Nano, the iPod mini, and the tiny iPod Shuffle. According to Apple, iPod is now the fastest selling music player in history.
In the process of achieving this sales milestone, Apple has dominated the portable media player market, with most estimates claiming some seven out of ten devices sold are iPods. Apple’s closest competitor, Microsoft (News - Alert), is said to sell one Zune player to every seven iPods. And though there are countless other portable media player manufacturers — Creative, Archos, Samsung, Toshiba, Dell (News - Alert), Sansa, Sony, Wolverine, and more — collectively, they only sell twice as much product as Microsoft.
In addition to the form factor the iPods offer, much of Apple’s success can be attributed to its iTunes software and online store, which not only functions as the interface to add or remove content from the devices, but also enables users to browse, search for, and purchase audio and video content. The iTunes Store features more than five million songs, 350 television shows, and 400 movies, with more added constantly. Indeed, the iTunes application provides a relatively painless—essentially a drag and drop process — for adding files to devices.
Another factor both contributing to and benefiting from Apple’s success is the surfeit of iPod accessories, of which more than 4,000 are said to be available. The accessories range from protective cases, car chargers, FM transmitters, external speakers, and more. Philips has even created a portable DVD player with a built-in dock for a video iPod. Also, nearly three quarters of 2007 model year American cars include iPod connectivity.
Some—cellular phone manufacturers, in particular—would be quick to point out that music-capable cell phones outnumber iPods today. However, most mp3 capable cells lack the functionality of iPods; adding and removing music is also considerably more burdensome. Factor in the fact that so many phones now include some sort of mp3 capability, and you can be certain the many users purchase phones for other features, but never use the music player features.
Certainly, even the most advanced iPod excludes certain functions available from some other manufacturers, but the tradeoff with those products is threefold: They have neither the form factor, nor the battery life, nor the memory capacity of an iPod.
At the end of the day, the iPod is not a 1980s Apple II computer, but like the Apple II, it has transformed its generation— sales of 100 million is proof. What’s more, it is entirely likely that the next 100 million will be sold in considerably less than five and a half years.
Erik Linask is Associate Editor of INTERNET TELEPHONY, IMS Magazine, and SIP Magazine. Prior to joining TMC (News - Alert), he was Managing Editor at Global Custodian, an international securities services publication. To see more of his articles, please visit Erik Linask’s columnist page.
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