August 23, 2006 4:00 AM PDT

Has iPod's hit parade stalled?

After years of cranking out hit iPod models, has Apple Computer hit a wall?

The company hasn't had a significant update to its product line this year, with the only change being the addition of a smaller-capacity 1GB iPod Nano in February.

"It's possible that we're at a point where the path to taking the next step is less clear and less straightforward, even for a company with the technology expertise and creativity of Apple," said IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian.

music players

Other reasons could explain the radio silence out of Cupertino, Calif., Kevorkian said, including the fact that Apple has decided to phase out the PortalPlayer processor from its next-generation Nano and reports that the company has faced design challenges with the successor to its video iPod.

Whatever the reasons, the competition is moving forward. Microsoft has said it will have its first Zune-branded device--a hard drive-based player with built-in Wi-Fi--in time for the holidays. SanDisk this week announced an 8GB version of its Sansa player, offering a device with more storage than the Nano or any of its major flash memory-based rivals. And the cell phone industry, which has struggled to find a music-playing hit, may have finally produced a bona fide contender with LG's Chocolate.

But few expect Apple is resting on its laurels.

"I'm convinced they aren't just sitting there," said Gartner analyst Michael McGuire. Apple declined to comment on where it is headed, as is its custom. Such silence, McGuire said, makes it hard to know where Apple is headed.

While it's hard to predict with certainty what will show up in Apple's next digital music players, any number of features could be added, analysts say. One possibility, Kevorkian said, is digital radio. So-called HD Radio offers digital content but, unlike satellite radio, is freely available without a subscription. Plus, one of the things that has prevented the technology from becoming widespread is the lack of support from hardware devices. "HD Radio is a technology that could make a lot of sense in the context of iPod," she said.

Apple has also given some indications that it may be trying to find new ways of melding the iPod with the cell phone.

During the company's most recent conference call, Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer said that today's cell phones don't make the best music players. "But over time, that is likely to change," he said. "And we're not sitting around doing nothing."

'Imagination is the limit'
The cell phone market is important, analysts say, noting that some consumers may opt to carry only one device, while others will make use of their cell phone for listening to music, even while carrying an iPod or other player on other occasions.

"You have a class of device that has a very powerful media processor with a lot of memory, it's almost like having a PC in your hand," Francis Lee, president and CEO of touchpad maker Synaptics, said in a recent interview with CNET "What kinds of things can you do with those devices? Your imagination is the limit," he said.

Lee, whose company's technology has been used in the iPod's scroll wheel, declined to comment specifically on what might be next for the iPod, but he said that broadly speaking, music remains one of the most important applications for future handheld devices.

In any case, Kevorkian said that Apple may have missed an opportunity to follow up on its successes of last year, which included the Nano and video iPod. "Apple had so much momentum coming out of 2005," she said. "That was momentum they could have banked on by introducing new products in the first half of 2006." (It should be noted, of course, that Apple could conceivably introduce a new model before the holiday shopping season.)

See more CNET content tagged:
HD radio, Apple Computer, Apple video iPod, Apple iPod, music player


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Apple Computer
Apple Computer, proudly going out of business since 1976! At
least according to the pundits.
Posted by lkrupp (1608 comments )
Reply Link Flag
iPod Meme Peaked In Nov 2005
The rate of growth in the Apple iPod meme peaked in late 2005.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>

Memes, i.e. word-of-mouth or "buzz", typically peaks one to two years before their effect shows up in measurable effects.

Notice how "JBuilder" peaked about two years before Borland's JBuilder sales collapsed.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by Broward Horne (88 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh please
According to the page you provided, the Zune is dead on arrival since it "peaked" back in November of 2004.

Whatevs. The memgraphs are useless.

Posted by SteveDave2 (34 comments )
Link Flag
Is C|net an iPod Hater?
Jeez, you write stories about iPods even when there is no this one. Nothing happened, so that's the story?!? Give it
a rest.
Posted by Craig Stevenson (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not iPod, but Apple.
This is, relatively speaking, a techie site. Techies like
complicated devices that end users have trouble understanding.
Anything difficult to use increases their social standing and self

Apple produces products that are easy to use with minimal tech
support required. Techies hate that, so they're not at all pleased
with Apple. The better Apple does for itself and its customers,
the more negative articles cnet and others will write. It's been
that way since the first Macs rolled off the assembly line.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
Don't read too much into it
I think they are just noting a decline in the pace of development, the number of new devices has slowed a little.

I don't see any sign of bias at all.

The Mp3 player market is approaching maturity.
The article just explores where the market leader is headed.
Posted by DoughboyNJ (77 comments )
Link Flag
Making news where there is none
Feel good news doesn't cut it. You don't find any media outlet with stories about good things because it doesn't sell. Who wants to hear about the success of a product that is still going with no changes, or would it be more interesting to call it a stagnant product line failing to produce new products or keep up with progress? Both are true, but only one will sell papers.

It's not CNET- it's the media in general. Puppies don't sell news unless someone is beating them.
Posted by Vegaman_Dan (6683 comments )
Link Flag
As always, c|net looks to find fault in Apple products..
Stalled..?? Why have a design change on something that's already
perfect..?? And as always, c|net still seems intent on bashing
anything Apple..!
Posted by imacpwr (456 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Perfection in devices: The device meets the user's every want/need. (My own defination of course)

But wants and needs change. So what is perfect, for you, now may not be perfect tomorrow.

Some of the items mentioned in teh article were HD radio and WIFI. Those sound like a very good addition to any mp3 players. If at least one of the items mention in the article, like WIFI, were added to mp3 players but not to the iPod then the iPod would not longer be perfect (JMH0).

The telephone is a good example. A device that allowed you to call anyone you wanted and have a converstation. Perfect! Wait, party lines - no longer perfect. Ok everyone has their own line, perfect again! Wait, I need an operator's help to make some calls. Ok that has been removed, perfect again! Wait......

Sadly, perfection never lasts.
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
iPod - The Next Sony Walkman? :-)
With increasing competition from a variety of sources, iPod's market share is going to decline in the coming years.

As the Sony Walkman demonstrates, past marketplace dominance is no guarantee of future marketplace dominance.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Of course
It's a given that some other company will produce a product that captures the eyes of consumers like the iPod. The 2 advantages that Apple really has is the iTunes store and is the fashion factor of the iPod. People like the look and feel of the products made by Apple. Sure, other portable players have more features and may cost less, but they're just not as cool to the average user. And they don't have the name recognition.
Posted by markusfarkus (96 comments )
Link Flag
No Company stays on top forever?

But this company knows how to innovate and takes risk unlike others that only follows whatever is popular (i.e. MS)). What other company would kill their BEST SELLING player (iPod mini) completely, for a new not yet tested with the public player (Nano)?
Posted by daveworld (123 comments )
Link Flag
I thought the Walkman lost because Sony backed totally the WRONG future technology. They chose minidisks which were ok but were really just souped up floppy disks. If Sony had got in with a good HD player at the start chances are the Walkman would still be on top.
Posted by grandmasterdibbler (78 comments )
Link Flag
buy another MP3 player
I, personally, don't want to buy an iPod. It's ugly and overpriced with limited features.

I'm gonna go get myself an iriver clix!
Posted by 213278268899151690444823078694 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I dont want an MP3 player; I want an iPod.
You find me any other company that makes an iTunes-
compatible combination MP3/MP4/M4A/M4B/M4P/M4V/QT/
AIFF/ALC/WAV player / contact manager / calendar / video
game / bootable external hard drive with thousands of
accessories available, then well talk.

Its a shame that you would be interested in getting something
as ugly and overpriced as an iRiver clix. While it admittedly
comes with some features dont come with the iPod (like an FM
tuner, which is only available separately), it foregoes some
REALLY important ones (i.e. bootable hard drive, iTunes
compatibility) without even giving you the ABILITY to add them.
Furthermore, it ties you into the M$ PlaysForSure monopoly
instead of letting you use whatever system you darned well

Youre certainly entitled to your opinion, but if I ever get a
portable MP3 player, I expect itll be built into an iPod.
Posted by the Otter (247 comments )
Link Flag
Strange Article
This is a strange article. Going after Apple for not making design
changes when holiday iPod updates are very likely just around the
corner? You know, patience is a virtue.
Posted by CBWolf (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Even casual observers would have seen various rumors about the
next gen Nano, which is expected to bring back the aluminum
exterior from the iPod mini and double the capacity to 8 GB.
Expect a product announcement mid-September.

This article was written in the short window after SanDisk
updated its line and before Apple updated theirs. That's all.

All talk of Zune is just talk until a product actually shows up.
Compare that to what Apple offers at the time, not what Apple
offers now.
Posted by Thrudheim (306 comments )
Link Flag
This is just opinioned journalism.

Apple has a new line of iPods ready for rollout.

They will redefine the platform.

Wait and See.
Posted by dansterpower (2511 comments )
Link Flag
Can I Write for CNET?
I sure would like to. At least I can offer real information,
intriguing subjects ... you know, something of substance. My
Moms National Enquirer has a tendency to do a better job.

Its seven months from February. NOT ALMOST A YEAR.
Its not out-date and old.
Apple has never sat on its laurels.
Holiday Season is coming. You know, the time when people
WANT to buy new things.

.... CNET quit hiriing writers that can be so damn obtuse. If you
get a garbage article ... DON'T PRINT IT.

Posted by Thomas, David (1947 comments )
Reply Link Flag
exactly why
"At least I can offer real information,
intriguing subjects ... you know, something of substance."

this is exactly why you _can't_ write for C|Net.
Posted by steinah6 (21 comments )
Link Flag
FUD - Most recent iPods introduced LESS than a year ago
There is still time to introduce new models (as the article correctly says). The iPod Nano and iPod with Video were not introduced at last years WWDC. They were introduced later. The iPod with video wasn't released until Oct. 12th!. This article is written a few weeks/months too early...
Posted by jimboman78 (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple Haters or lame attempt at tabloid ratings?
It's hard to be on top.
And most PC people love this stuff.
So relax.
Posted by Post Producer (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's All About the Content
At $1, is music disposable?

If yes, then Apple needs to constantly be doing new and different to retain the audience.

If no, then Apple needs only to incrementally improve because the iPod faithful has invested a lot in the non-transferrable content (to say nothing of the pricey players themselves).

Hopefully the future is convergence so that I can carry fewer devices. And design meets utilitarian. My iPod is beautiful, but it scratches easy. I've never dropped my iPod. My LG phone gets dropped all the time (or thrown by my two-year-old) and it's barely scuffed at all.

As an aside, I'm confused... I thought that c|net was anti-Microsoft (or anti-philanthropy after last week's stupid Onion-reprint) but everyone on here seems to think they're anti-Apple. Perhaps c|net is just cranky and anti-everyone?
Posted by TV James (680 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's All About the Content
&gt;At $1, is music disposable?

And most songs aren't even worth that.

With a subscription model, the user can get exposure to a massive quantity of songs, at a very low price-per-song.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Link Flag
Has iPod's hit parade stalled? No but Look Out Zune!
People who have iTunes and iPods will mainly stay with what they have unless Sansa and Chocolate offer them iTunes compatibility. As for ZUNE, these competitors only increase the chances ZUNE will fail unless Microsoft has really got its game on with Version 1.0. What are the chances of that?

Posted by enderg (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
WTF? It's still only August....
Is this cnet writer an idiot? I guess so..

The current iPods are only 10 MONTHS OLD! New iPods will be
here before the holidays, but remember, last holiday season Apple
sold 14 million iPods... They now have an obligation to meet and
exceed those numbers this year... The only way to do this is to
release the new models in the holiday quarter..

A little common sense is all it takes to understand this..
Posted by solsun (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I know right what are they wining about.
You guys at cnet dont think there is a cost rolling out a new product every 6 month? I mean if you would of wrote this in October then I would agree with you, but we will probably have a release estimate from apple by then and you would not have a story. Stop wining about more features, its clear that apple is doing just fine (you rarely se anything but an ipod here in NYC) If they want to take more time to refine their product thats ok with me I will wait for the next big thing from apple rather then jump on the band wagon of wannabes.
Posted by fire115 (10 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Music on cell phones...depends on DRM!
Sure having your music on a cell phone might be more convenient than carrying around two devices, but there are many other matters to take into account. The biggest one is the DRM issue. What can you do with your music? Carriers for cell phones seem to have major restrictions and each song is more than twice the price, than iPods. My understanding, is you can't even transfer the song to your computer. The carriers will offer to sell you another song file, albeit, more expensive that will let you transfer it.

It's all too confusing, restricting and expensive for the average consumer, so I predict iPods will continue to sell well.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Apple is only ONE company.. sheesh
Of course competitors are creating products of their own, it's a
10:1 ratio.
I mean, everytime another device hits the market, it seems like
there's an article that asks where's Apple' response device. If that
were the case, there would have to be a new iPod every month!
It's like that in the PC world too. Any innovation or price point by
ONE of the companies like HP, Dell, Toshiba, Sony, Levano... ALL
compared to an Apple product.
I guess it's lonely at the top.
Posted by Bosco714 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Questionmark Justifies Any Headline?
Rule 34: When your facts don't support (or even conflict) with
your thesis, simply use a question mark after your misleading
headline. This will work for both headline readers and article

1.) Those who only the headline - the vast majority of readers -
will ignore the questionmark, and take the innuendo as fact.

2. ) Those who read and find that your facts do not support your
headline can be safely ignored. After all, the headline was a
question, and not a statement. Therefore, you never REALLY said
whatever it was, anyway.
Posted by purpleshorts (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There I've said it.
Posted by paulsecic (298 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How is it that ?
When Apple release a new iPod people complain "i just bought a
new one, why do they have to bring out a new one so soon", Apple
waits a year between iPods, people complain "why haven't they
updated the iPod yet" They can't win.
Posted by The Governator (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I-Pod= No Voice Record, In-Line Record, FM or Record, or WMA compatiblity!
I-Pod = No Voice Record, In-Line Record, FM or Record, or WMA compatiblity! + user replaceable recargeable battery, and DRM compatibility with others providers, not only just I-Tunes.

Until the above are added as many others have, the Apple I-POD will not be the most popular &#38; be on the decline.

Gary - BartSystems
Posted by bartsystems (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hey, Gary. Haven't you heard?
Even without all those features, iPod has been in first place for several years. Thought I'd fill you in just in case you arrived back on the planet recently.
Posted by Norseman (1319 comments )
Link Flag
In your mind, ha ha (NT)
Posted by grtgrfx (221 comments )
Link Flag
well duh it doesn't have WMA. its apple! wma is microsoft!! they're basicly rivals and apple is not going to use microsof's format! that's why apple has aac
Posted by miconstantine (20 comments )
Link Flag
You don't need the who kitchen sink
I think what most people want is just a simple device to play their songs. I have other devices to do recording. Why do I need voice recording? So I can say, "note to self--buy more toilet paper?" Why do I need FM? So I can listen to music I hate played by the radio stations? The whole purpose of buying these portable music players is so you can play the music that YOU like. What do I care if I can only use iTunes? Do the other services carry music that I want but aren't available on iTunes? Nope.
Posted by stmon99 (32 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah Right
Yeah I am just dying for those features. I hate commercial with a passion, which is why I got my iPod. Why do I need a recorder if I am not in school anymore?

DRM compatible with other providers? Are they offering something different from iTunes (oh yeah rented songs, no thanks). If iTunes did not offer me everything I needed, then I would agree.
Posted by daveworld (123 comments )
Link Flag
OMG this dude is write
I never knew that the features I never needed were not available on
the ipod. I better turn them in for a zune as soon as its on sale. No
WMA compatibility. OMG
Posted by Innerdaemon (4 comments )
Link Flag
You are so right my man
Gary from bartsystems, you are so right on this one. It doesnt have anything that distingueses it from the pack, so due to all of its hype, it gives cnet a right to bash it. For one i dont think that they like it too much and secondly it generarates hype for their site which gives them more hits and thus more money.
Posted by thephoenixforce (4 comments )
Link Flag
Did C|NET get a big load of cash from Microsoft &#38; SanDisk, so the could PR Spin the iPod via FUD?

ALL of the other devices are clearly a cheap copy of the iPod as denoted by the "iPod Killer" tag lines that all of them use...big deal.

It's August people...Holiday season has not started before Labor Day.
iPod &#38; iTunes Moto Phone were introduced during the Holiday Season after the Sept.05 Apple Paris Expo.

Apple is silent because the are creating something new &#38; big for the Holidays &#38; they don't want some techno-rag like C|NOT to speculate &#38; spread information or worse FUD like this article above.

Don't you make enough ad revenue from MS &#38; SanDisk that you still need to run a verbal PR spin article &#38; call it NEWS?
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thanks for the laugh!
Posted by Sboston (498 comments )
Link Flag
Bluetooth? Why not?
I'm still shocked that Apple hasn't built Bluetooth into their iPods. It would not take much to build a transmitter into the device, and it could give it more 'wow' factor. Plus, cords suck when you're at the gym.
Posted by rkminc (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The last thing I want to worry about with an iPod is why won't my
headphones pair up with the device.

Bluetooth would be neat, but from Apple's minimalist stance it's an
additional cost for a feature not many people would understand
how to use.

I could see a bluetooth add on.
Posted by ethernet76 (88 comments )
Link Flag
do you have ANY idea how SLOW bluetooth is? imagine transferring hundreds of songs at 15 kbps.

why do you think bluetooth is only used for peripherals such as mice, keyboards, and phone synching/accessories? because it can't handle lots of data transfer.

i tried to transfer a song to my friend's computer with BT and it took about 5-10 minutes.
Posted by steinah6 (21 comments )
Link Flag
NOkia 6265i
Oh..did I mention Nokia 6265I has bluetooth as well as everything
Posted by bandaid69 (7 comments )
Link Flag
Ipods suck
Ipods are finished the only thing they have going for them is the music store, most of my are using their phones now for their music like me, although I never bought an ipod anyway.
Posted by ROTFLMAOAD (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ipods suck
Ipods are finished the only thing they have going for them is the music store, most of my mates are using their phones now for their music like me, although I never bought an ipod anyway. Itunes is also crap and out of date.
Posted by ROTFLMAOAD (67 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good for you.
Youve discovered what nobody else has been able to figure out:
people dont want to buy an iTunes-
compatible combination MP3/MP4/M4A/M4B/M4P/M4V/QT/
AIFF/ALC/WAV player / contact manager / calendar / video
game / bootable external hard drive with thousands of
accessories; they want to buy an MP3-playing telephone. Now if
you could only share that information with the 98% of the
population thats too stupid to know what they want, the world
will be a nicer place.

While Ive got you, care to elaborate on your assessment of
iTunes? I find it to be an extremely capable programespecially
for the priceand really cant think of anything out-of-date
about it.

Posted by the Otter (247 comments )
Link Flag
Grow TF UP?
Thaks for the input, now hurry back to shcool now?
Posted by daveworld (123 comments )
Link Flag
cash cow...
When a companies cash cow is threatened, most companies reinvent it. That's why Steve jobs kept making a new kind of ipod, but he's pretty much hit all of them, so what's next to make?

Most people think it'll be a phone, something like verizon wireless' chocolate, which is an mp3 player with phone capabilities.

Since verizon beat them to the punch, what else new is there to make?
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i second that
i second that
Posted by kamchoor (42 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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