The iPod you know won't be around much longer.
Crazy, you say? It wouldn't be the first time I've been proven wrong, but two interesting studies have me thinking that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is preparing a graceful exit for its older-school music players:
- Of 2,176 e-reader owners and potential buyers surveyed by comScore, 15% planned to buy an iPad in the next three months, versus 14% for Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle. By comparison, 10% of respondents cited Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS) Nook and 9% Sony's (NYSE: SNE) Reader.
- Flurry Analytics estimates that devices using the iPhone OS -- i.e., the iPhone and iPod Touch -- accounted for 19% of portable game revenue in 2009, up from 5% the year prior. Both Sony's PlayStation Portable and Nintendo's DS lost share over the same period, Flurry estimates.
The obvious conclusion from these reports is that Apple's planned transition from computer company to mobile-device company is well underway.
But I also get the sense that consumers have shifted expectations for what mobile devices can (and should) do, and they're increasingly confident Apple can deliver. More confident, it seems, than they are of heavyweights Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) filling the gap.
But to do that, Apple will need to concentrate resources on multipurpose, multitouch, interactive devices that cover music, video, telephony, and more -- the sort that don't rhyme with "shmy-pod." Consequently, investors should expect Apple to spend more on research and development and marketing over the next few years. In tech, turf wars get expensive, and Apple needs to win this one.
Now it's your turn to weigh in. Will the iPod meet its end in 2010, or shortly thereafter? Please vote in the poll below. You can also add to the discussion by leaving a comment.
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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy is, dare I say it, en fuego.