Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazing! You People Are Still Buying iPods!

Did you buy something electronic this weekend? Decent odds you bought an iPod.

That’s the conclusion you’ll reach if you tease out the bare-bones details from this survey from the Consumer Electronics Association, which tells us that three things sold really well over the past three days:

  • Portable mp3 players
  • Video game consoles and accessories
  • Computers, including notebooks and tablets

“Computers” and “video games” are pretty broad categories with lots of competitors. But “portable mp3 players” (does anyone sell mp3 players you can’t move?) pretty much means iPods. Apple still doesn’t have any significant competition in the category.

This data shouldn’t come as a huge surprise: The iPod is in decline, but that’s a relative term–it’s coming down from a very, very high peak. Apple says it sold 9 million of the gadgets in the last quarter alone.

Hypebot, which flagged the survey for me, suggests that this could be good news for the music business. Or, at least a “sideways bump.”

But while I assume there’s some correlation between new iPod sales and sales of digital music at iTunes, I bet it’s getting smaller and weaker every day.

That’s because Apple frequently doesn’t bother to position the iPod as a “portable mp3 player” at all. Instead, it sells it as a device that does all sorts of cool stuff (and will also play music, if you’d like).

See, for instance, this ad, which shows off everything but the iPod’s music capabilities (you can see a slightly shorter version by heading to, where Apple has purchased another one of those cool homepage takeover ads):

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus