June 09, 2008, 10:53 AM — Apple may look like a company that has everything together, but in recent months, it has forgotten about the one product that has propelled it into the limelight and made it a major force in the industry - the iPod.
I'm sure Apple wouldn't admit that it has forgotten about the iPod and would quickly cite sales statistics, but I think it's missing the point. With all the hoopla surrounding the 3G iPhone and the possibility of other products hitting store shelves, Steve Jobs has barely even mentioned the iPod in passing and there's currently no indication from Cupertino that we will hear anything new about it in the coming weeks.
According to analysts, iPod sales are slowing for the first quarter in its long and storied history. And while I won't sound the alarms just yet - they downgraded expected sales from 54.6 million to 51.1 million - it tells us two things: the iPod has hit critical capacity and there are fewer customers available to buy the device and Apple isn't doing everything it can to buoy sales and get them going in the right direction.
Is it possible that Apple is the victim of its own success? Surely everyone knew that this day would come, but I'm not so sure Apple expected it this soon. On the other hand, the company has been relatively tight-lipped about the iPod's problems and has maintained a policy that sees even its least popular device - the Apple TV - overshadowing its most popular. So what is really going on in Cupertino? Has Apple given up on the iPod and will embark on a path that sees the Mac and iPhone leading it through the next decade? It certainly seems that way. And while it may think it's doing the right thing, I think that's a huge mistake.
The iPod is the single reason why Apple is even on the map today. When it was first released, it provided the first real end-to-end solution with the help of iTunes and people quickly realized that they could have a product that wasn't nearly as useless as the Walkman.
And for a while, Apple stayed true to that business model and enjoyed some success because of that one device. With the help of convergence and skillful marketing, it soon made the world realize that it does much more than iPods and became what it is today: a company that has no debt and more profit than it knows what to do with.
That tried and true strategy worked and there's no reason to suggest it wouldn't continue to work as we press on. But unfortunately, Apple has seemingly decided to throw that out and follow the iPhone and Mac down the aisle. Not only is that idea incredibly misguided because of its utter disregard for the one product that means more than anything else, but it also reeks of money grabbing and desertion.