Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

The iPod's rise and fall

October 23, 2010: 11:26 AM ET

Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPod on Oct. 23, 2001, nine years ago today

Fiscal quarters. Sources: Company reports, Piper Jaffray for iPod touch estimates.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Here are the stats:

  • Age: 9 years
  • Units sold: 278,545,000
  • Net sales: $47,833,000,000

Note the seasonal patterns of quarterly sales in the chart, with Sonic-the-Hedgehog-style Christmas spikes. Note also the major inflection points, when sales accelerated:

  • Q1 2004: iTunes for Windows
  • Q4 2004: iPod mini, clickwheel, overseas expansion
  • Q2 2005: iPod shuffle
  • Q1 2006: iPod nano
  • Q1 2007: Entire line overhauled
  • Q1 2008: iPod touch

By 2006, the iPod was Apple's (AAPL) single largest source of revenue, bigger than the Mac. Today it accounts for less than 10%, eclipsed by the iPhone, the iPad and the resurgent Mac. See Horace Dediu's chart below (he's got an updated version here):

Source: Calendar quarters.

Below, per request of reader RattyUK, a chart of iPod unit sales with "the other iPod device," the iPhone, added in.

Fiscal quarters. Source: Company reports and Piper Jaffray for iPod touch estimates

For a photo retrospective of the iPod's first nine years, see Dan Frommer's slide show in Silicon Alley Insider.

[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

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