While no one is calling for the death of the iPod just yet; it has been reported that "the latest sales figures for the quarter to June showed 9 million sold—the lowest quarterly number since 2006." Once deemed the silver-bullet savior for a record industry in terminal decline—that re-engendered enthusiasm for music across all generations and demographics—it's downward trajectory is mirroring that of the very business it was supposed to rescue.
It is worth noting though that this time around, while Steve Jobs could surprise all of us, as he has in the past, that now that the iPhone and iPad have exploded into the market and opened up ever more profitable industries for Apple that music may no longer be in their main focus. Though we all hope and speculate their entry into the cloud-based or subscription music market, the thing is that there is simply more money to be made in other cultural industries at the moment, like TV and books. The general fear is that if the stand-alone music player starts to die off, people's interest in purchasing songs from digital stores may go with it, leaving those who wished digital sales to one day displace physical bewildered. Industry research analyst Mark Mulligan told that the Guardian that at a time when we should be seeing is "hockey-stick growth in digital sales" what we're seeing instead resembles a growth curve closer to that of a "niche technology." Imaginably, this is slightly disconcerting because there is a high likelihood that as the social phenomenon that is the iPod cools off and sales continue to slow, so too will the digital music sales that the device drove.
And, in a world dominated by applications, the idea of just buying a single file may lose its value proposition in the minds of fans, because in no way does it "play to the strengths" of the technology, Mulligan notes further. Charles Arthur, technology editor at the Guardian, argues that "it's unlikely that even Steve Jobs will be able to produce anything" that will revive the iPod's demise. Meaning that, a little more than five years after the record and music industries thought they had found salvation in the proliferation of the digital technology; they will be left searching again for a "for a new stepping stone to growth—if, that is, one exists."
It might, however, be a long time before Doug Morris gets to dance on the grave of the 'repository for stolen music' just yet. Maybe, in the course of my life, it might happen, but, as some industry insiders may joke, hopefully not his.
Source: The Guardian
Don's miss Apple's big music announcement this Wednesday Sept. 1st. Hypebot will have full coverage.