Will Apple kill off the iPod Classic?

While sales of the iPod Touch were way up year-over-year, overall iPod sales are down significantly. Does that mean the end is near for the iPod Classic?

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
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David Carnoy
2 min read
The iPod Classic may be an endangered species. Apple

If you've read the stories on Apple's latest earnings, you may have noticed that Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer took the time to break out the sales of each model in the iPod franchise, which is seeing year-over-year declines for the first time in its history. In her piece, our own Erica Ogg wrote:

"During the third quarter, Apple sold 10.2 million iPods, compared with 11 million a year ago. It turns out that the shifting appeal of the Shuffle, Nano, and Classic model iPods are to blame. But Apple apparently saw this coming." She then goes on to quote Oppenheimer, who says those declining sales are "the reason we developed the iPod Touch. We expect our traditional MP3 players to decline over time as we cannibalize ourselves with iPod Touch and iPhone."

As rumors continue to circulate that Apple will introduce new iPod models this fall (as it traditionally has), the big question is whether the iPod Classic becomes the odd iPod out. In a recent MP3 Insider podcast, CNET editor Donald Bell points out that orders for new Samsung hard drives that would go into an updated Classic appear to be nonexistent, according to Ars Technica and Apple Insider. And shortly after the earnings were posted, TechCrunch writer MG Seigler asked whether the iPod as we know it is dying.

The prevailing bet among iPod followers is that the Classic may stick around for a little while, but it probably won't be upgraded and will be quietly put out to pasture. The fact is that the iPod Touch offers a lot more functionality and, most importantly, it can run iPhone apps, which people find appealing, and they generate revenue for Apple.

Of course, there's a lot of folks out there who need a high-capacity iPod to store all their tunes and videos. The Classic remains a pretty decent value from the standpoint of a storage player, and we're seeing great deals on refurbished fifth-generation video iPods. If indeed Apple comes out with a 64GB iPod Touch this fall--as we expect it to--it will still cost quite a bit more than a 120GB iPod Classic. And that will keep Classic owners clinging to their antique iPods.

Personally, I hope Apple keeps the Classic around until the prices for flash memory drop enough to make a high-capacity Touch affordable. But I have a feeling the Classic will be gone by then.

Comments? Will Apple save the Classic or let it die?

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