Product Life Cycle: iPod

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Product Life Cycle: iPod

Development of the iPod: The iPod is a portable digital music player that holds up to ten thousand songs in a small, hand-held device that is lighter and thinner than two CD cases. iPod features a touch-sensitive navigational wheel and buttons, and an intuitive interface designed for one-handed operation. Songs are stored in several digital audio formats, delivering the highest sound quality. The iPod was born out of the idea dreamed up by Tony Fadell, an independent contractor and hardware expert, to take an MP3 player, build a Napster music sale service to complement it, and build a company around it. Fadell shopped the idea around to several companies and was turned away by all of them, except Apple. Apple hired Fadell in early 2001 and assigned him a team of about 30 people to develop the iPod. Fadell predicted that the iPod would remold Apple and that 10 years from now it would be a music business, rather than a computer business.

Introduction of the iPod: The iPod was introduced into the market just in time for Christmas, 2001. The first iPod was priced at $399. Apple relied on a hard disk for storage instead of flash memory or interchangeable CD-Roms and focused on promoting the uniqueness of the small size, power, and ease of use of the device. This first iPod had a 5 GB storage capacity—which is enough to hold over 1,000 songs—and it worked only on Macs, using iTunes as a music organization and CD-to-iPod conversion tool. iTunes, digital jukebox software that let Mac users import songs from CDs by converting audio files to the MP3 format and storing them on the computer’s hard drive, was introduced in January of 2001. Along with the iPod, Apple announced an enhanced version of iTunes that included a 10-band equalizer with presets, as well as a cross fading feature for smoother transitions from one song to another. An Auto Sync capability facilitated the downloading of music from a Mac to the new portable media device. Once the music was downloaded, Apple promised 10 hours of continuous play from the iPod’s rechargeable lithium battery. The device supported MP3, with bit rates of up to 320kbits/s, as well as AIFF and WAV file formats. Its amplifier could deliver 20-20,000-Hz frequency response. Apple sold 125,000 iPods by the end of December 2001.

During this introduction stage, the quality level of the iPod was ...

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...arly 2.5 years, iPod shipments are approximately 1 million units ahead of the Walkman’s pace after being on the market for the same period of time. During the 80s-90s, Sony sold over 300 million Walkmans. Given this information, it appears that iPod is showing no signs of being close to the decline stage in the near future.

In summary, I believe that the iPod is still in the growth stage of its life cycle. According to Roger Kay, IDC analyst, Apple is very good at releasing its iPod generations with incremental features which lure in new users and tempt other users to upgrade. Because of this, some iPod users have several generations of the player, and it is probable that mini owners also could follow that course. Apple now has a full product family that capitalizes on the original iPod’s success. Looking at the entire iPod line, the iPod is becoming a platform in of itself within Apple, as essentially a subsidiary within Apple. Based on the information I have read, Apple has many avenues that it could take with future development of the iPod and similar capabilities. The indicators show that the iPod will continue to have substantial success for a significant period of time.
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