Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

It's time to talk about the iPod touch

October 13, 2010: 12:02 PM ET

The iPhone without a phone now dominates Apple's aging line of music players

Source: Company reports, Piper Jaffray

Both the iPod nano and the iPod shuffle were, at one time or another, Apple's (AAPL) best-selling MP3 players. But now, according to Steve Jobs' September iPod update, it's the iPod touch -- a considerably more expensive device, and one that generates a lot more revenue for the company.

Which makes it all the more curious that Apple -- which is relatively open about its unit sales (compared with, say, Amazon and its Kindle) -- has never shared its iPod touch numbers with investors. Perhaps next Monday's quarterly earnings report would be a good time to start.

In the meantime, analysts trying to track iPod touch sales have had to back into them using customer surveys, average selling prices and other tricks. In the chart above we've relied on estimates from Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster, the only analyst we know who breaks them out.

Most analysts are content to publish overall iPod unit sales. The iPod numbers from the 33 analysts we've polled in advance of Apple's Q4 earnings report range from 8.18 million to 11.3 million, with an average of just under 9.6 million.

Below: Their most recent iPod estimates, alongside their Q3 accuracy ranking as measured on the Deagol scale (see here). We'll find out who was closest after the closing bell on Oct. 18.

Analyst, affiliation iPods, millions Date of est. Deagol Q3 ranking
Yair Reiner, Oppenheimer 11.30 10/7/10 3
Matthew Hoffman, Cowen & Co. 10.20 9/14/10 28
Andy Zaky, Bullish Cross 10.00 9/29/10 6
Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray 10.00 10/7/10 23
Brian Marshall, Gleacher & Co. 9.90 9/28/10 18
T. Michael Walkley, Canaccord Genuity 9.88 10/7/10
Alexis Cabot, Apple Finance Board 9.85 10/1/10 2
Nicolae Mihalache, Traderhood 9.80 10/1/10 27
Dennis Hildebrand, Apple's Gold 9.75 9/28/10 24
Robert Paul Leitao, Apple Finance Board 9.75 10/1/10 8
Turley Muller, Financial Alchemist 9.75 10/7/10 10
Horace Dediu, Asymco 9.70 9/28/10 1
Scott Craig, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch 9.67 10/8/10 9
Robert Cihra, Caris & Co. 9.64 9/23/10
Daniel Tello, Deagol's AAPL Model 9.62 9/29/10 4
Jeff Fosberg, Apple Finance Board 9.60 9/30/10 7
Keith Bachman, BMO Capital 9.60 10/6/10 21
Ralph Schackart, William Blair 9.60 10/6/10 19
Doug Reid, Stifel Nicholaus 9.51 9/30/10 12
Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank 9.50 10/4/10 15
Kathryn Huberty, Morgan Stanley 9.50 10/7/10 22
Shaw Wu, Kaufman Bros. 9.50 9/20/10 25
William Fearnley, Janney Capital 9.50 8/25/10 14
Alex Gauna, JMP Securities 9.41 10/6/10
Ben Reitzes, Barclays Capital 9.41 10/12/10 29
Mike Abramsky, RBC Capital 9.40 10/13/10 11
Richard Gardner, Citigroup 9.40 9/1/10 5
Mark Moskowitz, J.P. Morgan 9.34 10/7/10 32
Jeff Fidacaro, Susquehanna 9.26 9/22/10 16
Nehal Chokshi, Technology Insights 9.03 10/9/10 13
Ashok Kumar, Rodman & Renshaw 9.00 10/6/10 31
Rajesh Ghai, Think Equity 8.94 10/5/10 30
Tavis McCourt, Morgan Keegan 8.14 10/4/10 26

. . .
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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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