The iPod may be the most successful portable music player of all time, but will it stick around for the long haul?
An iPod is just a player, and the market is opting for smartphones that can do so much more than just play music or video. Audiophiles are more likely to covet music-only players, at least ones that offer high-resolution sound, and that's never been part of Apple's game plan. They're all about numbers, and iPod's numbers are going down.
I'm talking about plain vanilla music/video players; the iPod Touch won't be going away anytime soon. But music player iPod sales are trending down, while iPhone sales are still going up.
Better-sounding devices, like the Hifiman HM-602, are out there, but will only appeal to a tiny market. Sound quality, all by itself, is a low priority for most buyers. Price, features, games, apps, camera performance, small size, and convenience always trump sound quality. After all, sound quality gains would only be meaningful for those who want to hear their favorite music at its best.