Apple Starts To Wind Down The “iPod” Brand

9 Jun

Dan Frommer| Jun. 8, 2011, 4:01 PM

Apple’s new iOS 5 software for iPhones, shipping this fall, has many additions, but appears to have one notable subtraction: The music app is no longer called “iPod” — it’s just called “Music.” There’s a separate app for “Video,” as on the iPad and iPod touch.

Apple is probably mostly trying to unify the experience across all of its iOS devices, so playing music and videos is the same on all of them. Simpler, less confusing. It makes sense.

But it’s hard to overlook that Apple is also probably starting the inevitable wind-down of the iPod brand.

Since launching almost 10 years ago, the iPod was Apple’s most important product for years, driving huge growth at the company and making the iPhone and iPad possible.

But thanks to smarter mobile phones like Apple’s own iPhone, listening to music is now mainly a function of your phone, not a separate device like the iPod.

And that’s why iPod sales fell 14% year-over-year last quarter, while iPhone sales more than doubled year-over-year. The iPod business is declining, and while it will obviously stick around for many years, it’s probably going to go away eventually.

(A first step could be retiring the iPod classic — the scroll-wheel device that has been on the iPhone’s “iPod” app logo since the beginning — this fall, near its 10th anniversary. That’s another good reason to tweak the way the iPhone app works and looks.)

Again, we don’t expect the iconic iPod brand to go away any time soon. The iPod touch continues to grow, although Apple could conceivably rename that if it wanted. But other iPods still serve a purpose, and will likely stick around for many years.

But the wheels are in motion. Apple’s most important product, the iPhone, won’t have the word “iPod” on it anymore. And that’s kind of a big deal.

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