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iPod不死,承载苹果新使命

iPod不死,承载苹果新使命

Don Reisinger 2012年10月12日
iPod在苹果公司的复兴过程中的确功不可没。然而,对于这家市值全球第一的公司来说,iPod的重要性还体现在另一个层面上。它作为移动音乐和视频播放平台,正在被整合到新一代功能更加强大的产品中。因此,iPod不会消亡,而是进入到发展历史的新阶段。

Early iPhone prototypes show the influence of the iPod mini.

早期iPhone的原型机上还可以看出iPod mini的影子。

    每一家科技公司都有一款堪称代表作的产品。比如微软公司(Microsoft)的Windows操作系统,又比如谷歌公司(Google)的搜索引擎。而对于曾把“电脑”二字放入公司名中的苹果(Apple)来说,它的代表作则是iPod。没错,就是iPod,而不是iPhone,不是iPad,也不是这家公司未来会推出的任何以“i”打头的设备。

    为什么?

    要回答这个问题,得追溯到2001年。当时,苹果联合创始人史蒂夫•乔布斯还牢牢地控制着公司大权,并推出了重新设计的新款Mac电脑,以维系苹果公司的经营。显然,苹果公司当时的处境还不算太糟,但却苦于缺乏一款拿得出手的“明星产品”。iPod的出现改变了这一切。这款音乐播放器一经推出就迅速风靡全球,苹果公司的业绩也一下子重回上升通道。2003年6月,iPod销量突破了100万台,半年后销量达到200万台,上市三年销量就达到了1,000万台。

    当时,市场人士都在预测iPod还能创造多大的销量。但随着时间的推移,所有的疑问都集中到一点上,即iPod的热销势头会不会、而不是何时会停下来。在上市的头十年,iPod的全球销量达到了3亿台。乔布斯在谈到iPod时曾表示:“如果说有哪一款产品成就了苹果的话,那就是iPod。”这款结合了iTunes的音乐播放器彻底改变了音乐产业。的确,自从有了iPod,消费者几乎就无需再去购买CD。走在大街上,带着耳机听音乐的人随处可见,这就是一股由iPod带来的新潮流。也正是iPod确立了苹果和乔布斯的标志性地位。

    但随后,情况却有所改变。2007年,苹果公司推出了iPhone手机。此后,iPod的市场影响力就逐渐下降。尽管市面上iPod仍有销售,但却处在了iPhone手机的阴影之下。随着iPhone的热卖,iPod的销量开始出现下滑。消费者也意识到,iPhone既是手机,也能够用作音乐播放器,因此就没有必要再去花钱购买Nano、Shuffle或iPod Touch了。

    iPod的销售业绩急剧下降,也很快在苹果的财报上显现出来。在今年截至6月30日的财季中,iPod的销售额为10.6亿美元,仅占苹果总营收的3%。与去年同期相比,iPod的销售额下滑了20%,。此间,iPod的销量为680万台,下降了10%。这与2006年的情况有着天壤之别。2006年第四财季,苹果共售出870万台iPod,实现营收16亿美元,占苹果当年总营收的三分之一,这个数字与今年的区区3%形成了鲜明对比。

    Every technology company has a product that can be said to define it. For Microsoft (MSFT), it's Windows. For Google (GOOG), it's Google Search. And for Apple (AAPL), a company that once had the word "computer" in its name, it's the iPod. That's right, the iPod, not the iPhone or iPad or any future i-device coming along.

    Why?

    To answer, let's go back in time to 2001. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was firmly in charge, delivering newly redesigned Macs that were helping the company tread water. It was clear that Apple was in better shape, but it hadn't yet found a panacea. Until the iPod. Of course, the music player became a near-instant hit around the world, and suddenly Apple was back on the upswing. (This story also became canonical business hagiography.) Apple sold its one-millionth iPod in June 2003 and hit 2 million just six months later. Within three years of its launch, sales had hit 10 million units.

    At the time, the market wondered just how many more sales the iPod could generate. But as time went on, the conversation changed to one that centered on speculation over if -- not when -- the iPod train would stop. In its first 10 years of availability, Apple sold 300 million iPod units worldwide. "If ever there was a product that catalyzed Apple's reason for being, it's this," Jobs said once of the iPod. The music player, coupled with iTunes, revolutionized the music industry. Indeed, consumers largely stopped buying CDs. And when walking around town, it was hard to find anyone listening to music that didn't have white earbuds having from their heads. A culture formed around the iPod. And it was one that transformed Apple and Steve Jobs to iconic status.

    But then, something changed. Starting in 2007 with the launch of the iPhone, Apple's iPod started its slow descent into obscurity. The many iPods were still available, of course, but they lived in the iPhone's shadow. And as that shadow grew larger, sales started to falter. Apple consumers realized that the iPhone could double as an iPod, so spending extra cash on a Nano, Shuffle, or iPod Touch, made little sense.

    The iPod's steep decline has become readily apparent on the company's financial statements. During the three-month period ended June 30, iPod sales reached $1.06 billion, representing just 3% of Apple's total revenue. iPod sales were down a whopping 20% compared to the same period in 2011. Overall, 6.8 million iPods were sold during the period -- a 10% decline. (It was a much different story in 2006. In Apple's fiscal fourth quarter in 2006, the company sold 8.7 million iPods and generated $1.6 billion in revenue. That tally made up one-third of the company's total sales – a far cry from this year's 3% contribution.)

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