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« Demise of a Darling: iPod market share crashes to 14% amid management denials | Main | Book endorsements links have been restored »

July 21, 2006


Short Bus Rider

Congratulations on driving people to your site. Clever. Doubt it will sell your book, but very clever ploy. Shame it is based on a nice interpretation of statistics that would make Enron executives proud. I believe every statistic on your page, it is the combinations and assumptions underlying them that are broken. But arguing on the internet is like running in the special olympics - even if you win, you're still retarded.


You have too much time on your hands. But I do agree with the thoughts of others. You are an idiot.


I'm curious why you didn't answer my questions:

1. Who are these alleged endorsers on the right side of your book page?

2. When you say "bestselling", how many books have you sold?

charles hansrote

i do not see where you are coming from, these devices are meant for different things. I own a nice cell phone with, camera (optical zoom), web, music function, im, blue tooth. and for along time i honestly considered using the music function on it to supplement my ipod (i primarily use the ipod while running driving, my laptop and desktop the other times). however the phone companies (in my case sprint) must stop crippling their phones first, if it had full blue tooth functionality i would have been able to get my songs on there and occasionally listen to them. so i considered downloading them.... that was a nightmare, and still cant not do it, not after spending 2 hours trying to get help from sprint and in-store help later. i did manage to get the live video working nice little gimmick, though ungodly expensive, and yes i do find the phone convenient for times when i am with out other media capturing devices. however, besides the blue tooth for my head set, really the others could go away without loss to me. (and if your going to spell the demise of mp3 players by lumping mp3 playing phones in, why not tvs to, we have the ability on phone and on computers, they must really be hurting). the camera thing, you said Konica Minolta gave up and closed, thats not quite right, they sold themselves to sony who opened a new SLR family with the mount and body system from Konica Minolta. Konica Minolta had no where near 50% of the market. Konica Minolta, closed shop because the partnership with sony and its brand name were better among less professional consumers, and the onslaught of gains by Nikon, Canon (whom i use), and olympus. and the market overall among traditional makers is growing, even with film makers kodak and fuji film. why would they enter the fray if it was doomed. the main problem with your argument has been assumption that large numbers of people use the tech (many do not know they have the ability), and also quality of the product. the mp3 player as an independent will be around until the quality of the built in mp3 player and the convince of it are equivalent or better than that of stand alone. this isn't going to happen soon. also the multifunctionality of most mp3 players on their own helps their survival, making them mobile hard drives (considering the average pc still sells with under 100gb storage a 60 gb mp3 player makes an excellent portable back up). also for the most part ease of use, the cell phone music to call is difficult on most phones, and endusers on average would give up rather than try to learn it. if your argument was truly sound i would not own a desktop nor any of the 4 cameras i own, or a cell phone, as my laptop can do all of that and make calls wirelessly thanks to sprint. really my laptop does all of those things better than the individual components except for my slr camera. so i would have to say for ease of use and the consistent existence of tech that is obsolete due to convergence i must say your argument is horribly flawed (it would be nice to tell your readers your a big cell phone proponent, and your livelihood lies there). just so you know i sell general electronics and work as a free lance designer until i finish college, and have spent much time in the orient, china korea, where mp3 players are still used more than cell phones for music, and illegal down loading is the number 1 music source. if you want i can get some first hand accounts of people living there, and given time ill get market data from the camera buss, and mp3 buss for you

charles hansrote

side note i do not agree with the use of ipod to denote mp3 players, or the difference between pc and mac as such since the mac is a pc. but thats just me being picky...

Paul Morriss

I don't think I've ever seen such a detailed reply to so many comments! Good work.


"The company shifted 8.1 million iPods during the period, a 32 percent jump over the same quarter last year"

is not a drop in any respect. You might argue that it is not a growth as fast as mp3 capable phones are growing. But it is not a drop.


Well done on answering the comments and putting alot of effort/background into your argument but I still think, iPod sales will rebound over Christmas. I also beleive there are some inherent problems.

1. If I want to transfer my music stored on my Phone to a different phone provider. Its never going to happen. They wont even let you migrate with your own number.
2. I dont know of any UK phone providers who will transfer my currently stored songs to a new device.
3. If I am listening to my iPod, i can turn off my mobile. Can I turn off the voice function of my music phone while i listen to music on it.
4. iPhone, anyone.



i think you made a huge mistake in the title of your post

you are comparing apples to oranges. You say: ipod share crashes to 14% from 80%. However, you are taking Apple's numbers as marketshare for mp3 players as your only guide. So, according to your post, absolutely no mp3 playing phones were sold in any quarter before this one? Not One? in the whole world? If you compared the real numbers, and if you had done your research, you would have seen that mp3 capable phone sales were being sold in several quarters before, and what their units were. take what percentage of sales the ipods were back then, and you may have a number that looks closer to 15-16% ipod marketshare, maybe a bit higher, and then 'crashing to 14%'.

It is like Mercedes saying we have 30% of the high luxury car market. And you compare that to the number of total vehicles that have wheels....and yes, that 30% marketshare would not hold true

Ian Betteridge

Shortbus rider: Show us where Tomi gets it wrong. Oh, you can't? Shame.

Warmonster: You have no argument, and yet you're calling people idiots. I think that speaks for itself.

Tim: Your questions are irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Charles Hansrote: Please, for the love of God, learn to use paragraphs.

Tomi, you're doing a good job. Carry on.

Johnny Appleseed

Lies, damned lies and statistics! So there are six music phones sold for every iPod, but only twice as many people listen to music on their phone as on iPods? So adjusting for actual usage, that gives the iPod 33% market share.

No wonder Apple doesn't feel the need to rush an iPhone to market. Maybe music phones will be the way of the future, but I have a feeling Apple is going to reinvent the market in its own image with another category killer.

(BTW thanks for your comprehensive reply to everyone's feedback)

Martin Geddes

Loved the article and response, sorry to the Mac-addicts, but connectivity is king. Storage tech improves faster than Moore's Law, won't be a barrier for long (if it still is at all).

I've seen several people listening to music on their phones recently -- and that's just because I recognise the Nokia N series headphone cable tie.

Have been using my Nokia N91. Find that battery life is an issue, but not a terminal one -- but this is partly a product of being a smartphone with wifi, not an MP3 player. Storage capacity is plenty at 4Gb for anything but a round-the-world trip. Some rough edges to the Nokia s/w on the phone -- little silly things that'll be sorted easily. I also have a 30Gb, 30 hour, Cowon X5L media player. Love it still, have continued to use it on longer trips and because I prefer the better audio quality. It's the SLR of media players though -- not the mainstream item.

Suspect that there's a device space that the Sony PSP addresses that will continue to be viable for a long time to come. iPod needs to evolve in this direction to survive. There's a space just ahead of the handset technology curve which demands faster GPU, bigger battery, better screen, contextual h/w UIs, etc.

Feel that the software that goes with the phone has some way to go to match iTunes; not quite ready for mass-mass market yet, requires some techno-awareness (e.g. difference between DRM-enabled media transfer mode and file transfer mode). Again, 12 months and it'll be fixed. Just like Nokia Lifeblog 1.0 was nice proof-of-concept, 2.0 changed my photo habits forever.

Phone companies aren't doing the best job on accessories, and desperately need to standardise on one headphone plug standard. $2 earbuds aren't good enough for a lot of people (poor noise isolation in urban environments), and rip-off proprietary accessory rates aren't going to go down well. Again, another 12 months to fix.

I agree with you, but 2007 is the year that matches the provocative headline. My N90/N91 have totally killed all my other camera usage from 2005 on. The next iteration of the N91 would kill all other media player use. But as you say, the debate is "when", not "if".

Apple made the same mistake with the iPod as with the Mac: failed to license the technology widely. Every phone could have been "iPod inside". Too late, too greedy, too bad.

There's a BIGGIE in favour of the phone-as-music-player: if you're zoned out listening to your iPod, you might miss a call. That alone determines who will win this convergence battle.

If Apple want to build an iPhone, they've got a massive problem in getting distribution and support sorted. Only thing I can think of is team up with a new network entrant like Clearwire, vertically integrate for the ultimate user experience ('cos standard telephony sucks in many ways), and bet the whole show. Doubt they can raise the capital to enter at the scale needed to compete. Anyhow, the RAZR stomped all over the differentiated industrial design opportunity space already.

iPod? Content device. Phone? Communication device. Odlyzko is right, content is not king, Phone eats iPod. Next, please.


I didn't see a source for the "48 million MP3 playing musicphones". Could you please provide one?

Second, on the "A catastrophic earth-shattering crash of 40% drop in sales", see this:

You'll note a Christmas 05 steep increase in sales, and other than that, iPod sales follow a typical logistic curve. It looks like the saturation level is between 8 and 10 million per quarter.

MP3 phones aren't going to "crush pretenders, from PDAs to digital cameras and yes, stand-alone MP3 players like the iPod". I would guess that many of the 48 million phones (still want a reference, please) have "cameras". Of course, they're utter crap compared with real cameras, and haven't had the slightest effect on sales of digital cameras. The same will be true with music players.

I guess my point here is that as phones acquire more functionality it is tempting to lump them together and talk about "marketshare" as they compete with other single purpose devices that provide the same functionality. On some level that makes sense, but in other ways it does not. Cars have radios (and TV's and DVD players) and I haven't noticed that there is a decline in standalone devices for that functonality.

Two final points. First, the ipod is as much about the ITMS as it is about the player. Phones don't have anything similar. So far, the main problem is that the wireless companies want to charge a LOT to download a song over the cell network. They need to drop this to the $0.99 or less that internet downloads cost. The current premium surcharge is far too high. Second, I'll repeat that this is a separate market, where I don't believe common marketshare numbers make much sense. That said, apple is about to enter the cell phone market, and I wish them every success. It will be interesting to see how they integrate the whole digital life style with a phone.

Joel Burslem

I feel compelled to speak up for Tomi, if for no other reason than to counter all the mindless "you're an idiot" comments.

I'm a Mac user and I have an iPod. I love both of them. But Tomi's points are right on the money. The mass market doesn't care about the iPod or Apple as a brand, like I might - they just want an easy way to listen to digital music. Apple was just the first company to do this properly for them.

It's not a question of IF the cellphone supplants the iPod (or other mobile MP3 players) but WHEN.

But the real guys to blame here are the US carriers. Crippling bluetooth, exhorbitant download rates, slow roll out of 3G networks, limited handset selection - these are the real issues here. That's what's stalled adoption rates of musicphones to date, IMO.

Travel outside the US (I spent 3 years in South Korea) and you realize how truly far behind the US is in mobile technology. In 2002, when I first moved to Korea to teach English, my students were already all listening to MP3s on their phones. When I left in 2005, they were all watching live TV on their phones.

Those phones are only now just starting to appear on US shores. The 3G networks to support those phones properly are live only in a handful of US cities. That's the real problem here.

I guess the good news is that the situation is changing, albeit slowly. New handset models are launching (slowly) in the US, new MVNOs are popping up (Helio) with mobile media in mind.

Tomi's right. The need for a single use device to consume digital music is ultimately numbered. I believe the cellphone will one day be that all-in-one device we've been waiting for.

Jeff Boice

Certainly the numbers don't lie. The sales figures are what they are. The spin here comes from your choosing to classify cell phones as portable MP3 players and then compare those sales figures to that of iPods. It's a choice that's not totally without merit, but it's also a choice that's not totally honest.

Following this same logic we could also classify all automobiles that have CD players as "portable CD players" and then compare their sales statistics (sales revenue perhaps?) to other "portable CD players" on the market. I'm sure such a market share as percentage of sales revenue discussion would be interesting, but would it really mean anything?

Surely people who buy automobiles care whether or not they can play CD's in them, but most people would likely agree that it's not the reason they are buying the automobile. They are buying the automobile to drive.

Now if there were a way to determine which people were buying their cell phones truly as MP3 players and then choosing not to buy an iPod or some other MP3 player because they bought their cell phone/MP3 player, now that would be a comparison really worth making.

But to ignore all the other features of a cell phone and simply classify it as an MP3 player muddies the waters too much for any meaningful comparison of apples to apples.

And that fact doesn't change regardless of how absolute or extreme the language you use to stake your claims. The extreme position does though have the advantage of stirring up strong reactions. Rhetoric is a powerful tool. Congrats!

Ian Betteridge

Jeff, you're missing the point: twice as many people worldwide are using phones to listen to music than dedicated portable music players. There's nothing rhetorical about the results of that survey. And that's USAGE, not just people buying the phone to make calls. Please, don't ignore the figures that aren't convenient to your perspective.

Short Bus Rider

Ian - you can't pull together the unrelated results of three surveys of differing populations and call it a corollary. What you need is a definite survey which asks "What do you use to listen to music on the go?" and poll that result. You'll find a hell of a lot of people use both. Some people who use their phone on the bus to listen to music might use an iPod while jogging. There are so many of these cases which make the conclusions above so much more coincidental. This is not coming from an iPod loving person, but a statistics respecter. And this is drawing really rank conclusions, which I guess is the perogative of all bloggers. Especially those trying to sell a crappy wanky marketing book.

Tomi T Ahonen


Thank you all. I am very happy that the discussion is moving a bit beyond the simply "you are an idiot" level. I find many very good arguments - on both sides definitely - and again am struck by yet another new observation myself, triggered by these comments.

THANK YOU for writing. I will come back here and reply to you all. Give me a moment to get some food and catch up a bit on my e-mails ha-ha. I'll be back still tonight London time for you all here.

Tomi :-)


You are right on for the Nano and the general music consumer - the person with ~100 CDs in their collection who listens to pop music. I think the iPod (higher capacity disk based ones) will settle into the niche for more serious music fans such as myself. I WANT BOTH - a phone for casual listening and carrying around one thing (Ideally and Apple Phone with best of breed synching) AND my high capacity iPod for carrying around as much of my music collection as I can for the car and for trips - that is something where a stand alone device will always trump the phone, just like a stand alone camera will always trump a cameraphone. I have been out of space on my 60 GB for a while, and an 80 will not do - I want a 160, or larger. You will never have a cell phone equaling the capacity of a larger iPod with that kind of durability until there is a massive shift in technology (TB Flash storage may change that).
Good analysis overall.

Ian Betteridge

SBR: "What you need is a definite survey which asks 'What do you use to listen to music on the go?" and poll that result'"

Tomi links to exactly this kind of survey: ""

You claim to respect statistics, and yet you have no figures to back up the claim you're making. Provide some, and I'll believe you. But meanwhile, all you have is a desire - exihibited by your closing comments - to slate Tomi's points because you want to believe in something: that the iPod is the One True Solution for listening to audio on the move.

The comments to this entry are closed.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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