iPod license to print money

Written by Geoff Richards

July 14, 2005 | 14:39

Tags: #battery-life #download #hours #ipod #ipod-mini #ipod-shuffle #itunes #market-share #million #music #revenue #sales #walkman

Companies: #apple #sony

Sales of iPods have increased six-fold in the past year, and Apple's net income has soared from $61 million to a whopping $320 million for the 3 months ending 25th June, according to Forbes.com.

Revenue rose 75% to $3.52 billion, up from $2.01 billion a year ago, as Cupertino shipped some 6.16 million iPods during the quarter. iPod sales now make up nearly one third of Apple's total revenue.

Apple now have a top-to-bottom range, from the 512MB & 1GB flash-based iPod Shuffle, through the pocket-sized 4GB & 6GB iPod mini, to the grand-daddy 20GB & 60GB fourth generation iPods, now with colour displays. According to the latest figures from research firm NPD, Apple has a 75% market share for portable digital music players.

The dominance doesn't stop there. All those iPodders need a way to fill their pocket jukeboxes, and music downloads from the iTunes website are nearing 500 million; iTunes controls 80% of the legally-downloaded music market.

Despite Apple's utter dominance of the scene, rivals have not yet given up. Sony, who single-handedly invented the idea of portable audio when they launched the original Walkman back in 1979, are fighting back. While Apple is still #1 for hard drive-based players in Japan, as they are everywhere else, Sony have forced the flash-based iPod Shuffle into second place in their domestic market with the introduction of new models.

Exploiting the Shuffle's weak point - no display to tell you what track you're listening to - models like the circular NW-E107 not only feature a small LCD screen, but thoroughly embarass the Shuffle in battery-life: users can squeeze as much as 70 hours playback out of a single AAA battery vs the modest 12-hours from a Shuffle.

"There is no question that Sony has the potential of being much more competitive," said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, a U.S.-based research firm. "It could emerge as a more formidable rival to Apple over the next three years," he told Yahoo News

Right now, it is hard to imagine anyone toppling Apple. To many people, the word "iPod" is becoming the generic terms for a portable music device, just as Kleenex is for tissues, Hoover is for vaccuum cleaners and Xerox is for photocoping.

iPods - love 'em or hate 'em? Some of our staff own more than one - how many do you have?
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