The new iPod nano: A flop?

The good news in Apple's earnings call this afternoon, according to CFO Peter Oppenheimer, is that the Cupertino company has sold more Macs and iPhones than it ever has in the past, beating previous Mac sales records by 444,000 or 17% year over year and beating iPhone records by 7% unit growth year over year.

The bad news is that the MP3 player product class where Apple has actual market dominance, not just dominant mindshare (as with the iPhone), has begun to slide, despite a 100% increase in iPod touch sales year over year.

In all, Apple sold 10.2 million iPods, which is down 8% against last year. So if sales of the iPod touch are up, what's the deal?

"Customers love the iPod nano," Oppenheimer said in today's earnings call, but he did not say how many were sold, nor did he specify how well the 160 GB iPod Classic and 2 GB - 4 GB iPod Shuffle sold. With substantial growth in iPod touch and an overall decline, this can only mean that every "old school" iPod sank.

This is the quarter where there is typically an iPod sales spike related to the fall update to the product line. As with previous years, the updated iPod line debuted on September 9, which provides adequate time for a surge in the newest devices until the end of the quarter on September 24.

In 2005, for example, when the first iPod nano debuted, iPod sales were relatively flat for the quarter, but over a million Nanos shipped in the 17 days following the device's premiere.

Again, the big product debut this time was the iPod Nano with camera, microphone, and built-in FM radio, but there appears to have been no related surge.

As Betanews contributor Carmi Levy wrote on the day before this year's iPod refresh, "The cynic in me believes the Day the iPod Died was when Apple shifted away from its hard drive-based iPod classic, and moved toward the flash-based iPod touch. Indeed, the touch -- either the model Apple is selling now, or the one that'll be on sale following this week's announcement -- has infinitely more in common with the iPhone than it ever had with the original iPod. Which means it isn't really much of an iPod at all. Which, from where I sit, means the iPod, as a brand, refers to yesterday's technology."

Though the iPod still holds a 70% market share here at home, it looks like the purpose-oriented iPods of the past are losing out to devices supporting user-installable apps.

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