Will Apple kill the iPod?

Apple's iPhone 5 announcement is just around the corner, but there's still no word on whether we'll see a new crop of iPods this year. Could this be the end of an era?

Donald Bell Senior Editor / How To
Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.
Donald Bell
2 min read

Lots of iPods.
Could this be the end of the line for the iPod? Donald Bell/CNET

I'm a little worried for the iPod. The poor guy has been out of the limelight for years now, desperately vying for attention against the iPhone and iPad. The iPod Shuffle had an identity crisis and lost its button (it's back now, don't worry). The iPod Nano had a case of touch-screen envy. And the Classic, well, just stayed the same.

Now, press invites for Apple's October 4 event have gone out, and there's no mention whatsoever of the iPod.

Historically, Apple's product announcements are like clockwork. There's a new iPad in April, a new iPhone in June, and a new crop of iPods in September. This year, though, Apple threw a wrench in the works. Summer came and went without a new iPhone, and here we are at the end of September without a single new iPod--not even a rumor of one.

But if you can put sentimentality aside, it's really not a bad time for Apple to stick a fork in the iPod.

For starters, this year (October 24) marks the 10-year anniversary of the iPod. That's quite an achievement, but it's also a nice place to bookend things. I can imagine Apple saying, "It had a great run, now go buy an iPhone."

Also, the iPod just isn't the moneymaker it once was for Apple. In the fourth quarter of 2010, iPod sales made up just 8 percent of Apple's total revenue, and they have been in a steady decline ever since the iPhone's introduction.

Finally, there's Steve Jobs' famous advice to Nike CEO Mark Parker back in 2006: "Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff."

A big part of Apple's success is because of its focus on making just a handful of great products and curating an experience around them in its famously minimal retail stores. If today's iPod is just taking up space without paying the rent, maybe it's time to go.