After 12 Years, Will Apple Finally Kill the iPod?

iPod Classic. Source: Apple.

The click wheel. An excellent expression of Steve Jobs' preference for a blend of simple design and an intuitive experience, the feature made its debut on the original iPod in 2001. Though the technology was groundbreaking in its day, it may now be time to say goodbye to the feature. Wired asserts that the iPod Classic's life will come to an end at next week's Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) media event.

A dying breed
Apple's iPod lineup is aging. Since 2008, unit sales have been on a steady decline.

Source: Data retrieved from quarterly filings for quarters shown.

This isn't the first time, however, that the iPod Classic has been rumored to be killed. In 2011, similar concerns were raised.

Whatever the verdict, the iPod Classic makes up a minuscule portion of the company's revenue. The entire iPod segment amounted to a paltry 2% of Apple's total revenue in its most recent quarter. Even more, the latest updates on the segment from Apple say that the iPod Touch accounts for more than half of total iPod sales.

The iPod Classic likely lends itself to a small niche. At 160GB of storage, the iPod Classic appeals to hardcore music lovers. But does it make sense for Apple to continue to serve this niche?

Unworthy of the Lighting connector?
Last refreshed in 2009, the iPod Classic still sports the 30-pin connector. As Apple transitions its products to the Lightning connector, it may make sense to stop producing the iPod Classic.

But even if it doesn't make economic sense, should Apple keep it around in memory of Steve Jobs?

On the other hand, it doesn't seem like a Steve Jobs thing to do to keep old technology around. As CNET author Donald Bell pointed out, Steve Jobs' once advised Nike CEO Mark Parker, "Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."

Despite its nostalgic significance, maybe it's best if Apple says goodbye to the click wheel.

What do you think? Should Apple finally kill the iPod Classic?

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Read/Post Comments (7) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2013, at 11:38 PM, Mega wrote:

    The last time I checked, 2% was better than 0%.

  • Report this Comment On September 08, 2013, at 11:54 PM, marv08 wrote:

    I do not think investing any money into giving it Lightning would be justified. Bringing the iPod touch to 128 GB capacity might be the better move (the amount of people really bothered by the difference between 160 and 128 GB should be rather insignificant).

    On the other side, doing a device for people with a little higher demand for good audio quality (better DAC and slightly higher output to support better headsets)... I might be interested, but that may be a niche.

    If it is worth it to continue selling the "Classic" as is, depends on the sales figures. I do not know them.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2013, at 7:34 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    I certainly hope not. I am not going to work out with my damn phone strapped to my arm. If they are that stupid I hope they license it to someone else to make for them.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2013, at 7:39 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    They better not kill it. I don't want to work out with a &(*&%#* phone strapped to my arm.

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2013, at 11:55 AM, Carioca58 wrote:

    Hi Daniel,

    You can't be talking about the entire iPod segment, are you? It doesn't make sense to discontinue the iPod shuffle or iPod mini. I don't even think they should be bundled in the same discussion as the Classic or even the Touch.

    They represent small % in revenue, but I am sure they cost very little to make. Perhaps they are even more profitable than some of the bigger ticket items.

    A sales chart is not enough to justify the decision.

    Carioca

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2013, at 2:52 PM, TMFDanielSparks wrote:

    @Carioca

    Thanks for the comment. Per the first paragraph, I'm just referring to the iPod Classic:

    "The click wheel. An excellent expression of Steve Jobs' preference for a blend of simple design and an intuitive experience, the feature made its debut on the original iPod in 2001. Though the technology was groundbreaking in its day, it may now be time to say goodbye to the feature. Wired asserts that the iPod Classic's life will come to an end at next week's Apple media event."

  • Report this Comment On September 09, 2013, at 3:24 PM, TMFDanielSparks wrote:

    Sounds like most of you hope Apple keeps the iPod classic around :). It will be fun to see if there's any news on the subject tomorrow.

    And @Carioca, sorry for the confusion. I called it iPod since 12 years ago when it was introduced it was simply called "iPod" -- the only iPod that ever carried that name. All others were "iPod Touch, iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano," etc.

    Now, of course, it is referred to as the iPod Classic, a term which would have made a better title :)

    Original iPod press release: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2001/10/23Apple-Presents-iPo...

    Thanks for all the great comments everyone.

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