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100 Million iPods Sold, But How Many Are Still in Use?

Posted by: Rob Hof on April 09, 2007

Like everyone else, I’m impressed that Apple has sold 100 million iPods. It’s incredible, really, and a testament to how well Apple has designed and marketed them. I do wonder, though, how many are still in use. A whole lot less than that, no doubt, given how many generations have come out (and no doubt how many batteries have run out of juice, probably prompting many users to just buy a new and better one). And I’m sure that’s nothing unusual for any consumer electronics product. Seriously, does anybody have any idea how many people now use an iPod, besides the “tens of millions” Apple suggests? I’m just wondering how much iPods have spread into mass use vs. fairly tech-savvy folks.

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Reader Comments


April 10, 2007 10:16 AM

If the local Caribou Coffee shop at 3:00pm (middle school gets out) is any indication, all the kids have them. And, if I see an adult with an mp3 player, it's always an iPod.
There seems to be a lot of hand me downs, oldest kid gets a new one and the previous iPod is given to the next down the list.

Philip Carter

April 12, 2007 08:53 PM

I gave up on my ipod the minute I couldn't get my music from my ipod to my new laptop.

It is cool to look at (I have the nano), but what a waste since it is so difficult to take music off of it and sync to a new computer.

I won't ever buy one again. Mine is sitting around rotting.

Philip Carter
Marketplace Software, LLC


April 16, 2007 10:51 PM

Mr. Carter,

As a president of a Software Co. I am surprised that you are unable to use an iPod. Kids are able to download music, photos etc from their iPods, it's that simple. Maybe it's your new notebook thats the problem, I guess it's not a Mac.

That has been the foundation of the iPod's success, it's simplicity of use. I believe that at least 50% are still in use if not more in some form or another. I know of many people that keep the old iPod's as external drives on the PC's or laptops, so even if the battery is dead they keep them powered up and useful. Some keep them in the car hooked up permanently and use the new one for the mobility needs.


April 16, 2007 11:14 PM

I bought my Dad an iPod Shuffle for X-Mas thinking he *might* use it on the train during his commute everyday. Within that time he's already invested in an iPod Nano (might I add a nicer one than mine), given my Mom his Shuffle and bought several more as gifts for his friends (not to mention the plethora of accessories he's also invested in). I always thought that iPods were enjoyed by a younger generation, judging by my Dad's reaction, I guess that's not really the case.

Mike Schwager

April 17, 2007 03:05 PM

Although I love my iPod Nano, just for its form factor, I understand Mr. Carter's frustration. The fact that Kids can do many wonderful things with their iPod's doesn't mean that there aren't some serious problems. The kids- believe it or not- are very good at drawing inside the box. And iTunes has created a very nice box. But once you try to do something that iTunes is not designed for- or, more likely, designed to prevent- you've got trouble. Using two laptops and one iPod, for example, which is what my wife and I tried to do (yes, you can do it but it's a hassle. I wanted to load CD's onto her iPod and do it faster with the 2 machines. And I wanted to sync the machines to the iPod. Smart, yes? But iTunes is designed with a 1:1 iPod/computer relationship. It always wants to sync both ways, to only 1 computer. So you have to shut off sync'ing, and upload your songs yourself. Dumb.)

Mr. Carter, do a Google search for Yamipod. Yes, it takes the Open Source community to do what the unholy Apple/Music Biz alliance doesn't want you to do. And don't listen to those who claim that if the kids can use it, so should you. As a 23-year computer professional (UNIX geek and so on), I can tell you this: It's not you. It's not your computer. It's iTunes.
-Mike Schwager

Liz P

April 24, 2007 12:52 PM

Thanks to Mr. Schwager for his reassuring comments. I no longer feel like a dunce now I know that a computer professional agrees that they may be troublesome. I upgraded my archaic Creative Zen Nomad to an iPod but I think I will stick to my brick once more. I find iPods frustrating to use on Windows. I think my new pod may well find a happy home to some unsuspecting ebayer...

bubba the love sponge

April 26, 2007 02:05 PM

wait... Seriously... you can't figure out how to use an ipod? You're kidding right? After you make another fake post from a supposed "computer geek" about you really not being a moron, go ahead and sell your ipod on ebay, no wait a minute, it takes a brain to sell stuff on ebay, I guess just give it to an 8 year old, they love them and have no problem "figuring it out"

Philip Carter

April 28, 2007 03:14 AM

Yup... Ipods make about as much sense as using a mac to try to run your business on a file maker pro home made database program when there are software's like mine that blow everything out the water.

I don't why it should surprise you that apple products do not make sense to a logical thinking man. The fun poked at people like me with those stupid apple commercials is ridiculous... I had an ibook and I used for the only thing it was good for, for me-- surfing the web without caring whether it got beat up by viruses. Apple products are toys, nothing more, nothing less.


April 30, 2007 02:54 PM

There are probably a lot of purchases, but that is only because they don't know what they are getting themselves into. I have the 80GB iPod and it has given me more trouble than music-time. Not to mention iTune is thrown into the picture to make things even worse. Basically everyone I know that has one cannot use it for what it is because it malfunctions. I myself handle it like if it's going to detonate any minute. It's frustrating. I have to say that A LOT do not use it... 'cause they can't.

Nick. L

May 4, 2007 03:18 AM

Ipods, one more reason to spend too much time in front of a computer screen. You work in front of one, you read the news on it at home, and now you are telling me that even my music will depend on a computer ?

What a waste of time, money and energy, for a product that will soon stop working properly.


May 29, 2007 10:07 PM

For bubba ...
do you have an ipod? Have you ever used one? I don't think so, unless you are the happy owner of an apple computer. But if you use windows, like the 97% of the world population ( in USA, because in Europe probably the apple user are less than 1% ) the ipod is not worth the money you spend. There are out there at least three better mp3 player that the ipod. One for all the San Disk Sansa. But probably you don't know what it is. Like every american you don't buy what you want and need, you buy what the commercials tell you to buy.

Esteban Cervantes

June 11, 2007 08:44 PM

since apple iTunes doesn't allow to get your music to a new computer there's nice third party tools that allow us to make it, like floola that even lets you load videos take your music from the ipod and to it also

juan d

October 3, 2007 12:05 AM

this is a joke, i never knew so many people were struggling to use an iPod, i used to have a pc and i used my iPod with it, no problem. Now i have a mac and there is no problems either, im not going to get into pc vs mac stupid war, but i think there is a reason why so many iPods have been sold, they are sooooo easy to use, way better than all those others here said, now that you don;t know how to use it it's a different story. And for all of those who can't use it, i do agree there are a lot of other mp3 players that are almost just as good as the iPod like the sandisk one...


October 24, 2007 09:37 PM

I have an Archos 104 and in my opinion, it is way better than an Ipod. My music player is complatible with every music program,better protected, better battery life, and was up to $125 cheaper than a 20g Ipod(with the same amount of songs) My friends all have Ipods and are always with struggling with it, such as battery life, dropping it, and just radomly dieing on them. Also, Ipods get stolen all the time. (Most people think mine is a weird cell phone) If I was ever to buy another music player, it would be a Zune or another Archos.


December 2, 2007 11:56 PM

To answer the question, how many ipods are still in use, I'd have to say probably around 1-5% of them. The longest I've seen an ipod last (functional) is 2 years, and that's only once. Every other ipod i've seen has lasted less than a year. Ipods don't need to be built to last. People will buy them regardless of their quality; not to mention if they break faster, people will buy a new one faster. The problem with the mp3 player market is most people don't think about what to buy, they just assume an ipod is what they should buy because that's what everyone else buys. The only decision being made is which ipod to buy. The truth is that there are mp3 players that are built to last, with better features and abilities while keeping the features that have made ipod so popular. They're also cheaper, because there's less demand for them. Creative Zen products like the Sleek and Vision are some examples of such products. People, do yourselves the favor and replace your ipod with something that works and will actually continue to work in a year.


September 13, 2008 07:53 PM

honestly its really easy to use...plug the damn thing in...hahah! i swear it works, all of my friends and family own one and every ONE of them works just fine and dandy :) i loveeee my ipod


September 23, 2008 03:06 PM

they are easy to use, and they dont malfunction. you shouldnt just give up on them because you cant work them. Your just dont know anything about technology compared to the younger generations. who CAN work their ipods easily, and they do not find that they malfunction. Nearly everyone in my school has one. I have never heard a complaint. MAybe you older people are just stupid????
and dont leave your Nano's to rot. its a waste, you need to learn some perseverence.


November 2, 2008 06:21 PM

This just cracks me up how many people feel that the ipod is hard to use, or easier on a mac than a pc. I have used on both and the interface and the way it works is exactly the same. If you are having problems, it is definitely not the ipod but the user. I have 5 ipods in my house that run on pc, mac, and linux.
As far as you people switching computers, it is very simple. You should have a backup copy of all your songs. Place them on on your new computer and place in your itunes library. Plug in ipod and sync. Not hard at all. I am 40 years old here so it is not an age thing. If you have failed to backup your songs there are application programs that will extract your songs on to your new computer, go to google and search.

Ask for help from someone who knows about ipods, this stuff is not that hard.


November 13, 2008 07:14 AM

I agree with John, seriously my ten year old has shown me new things to do with the ipod and itunes. My 76 year old Grandfather can work an ipod on a PC none the less! It's really amazing what a back up will let you do. We have 4 laptops and have flip flopped our itunes library countless times because we all decide, at one time or another, that we want certain songs from another library so we back up the libraries regularly and update each computer. It's really not that difficult.


December 4, 2008 12:52 PM

do kids like ipods in class


December 5, 2008 10:58 AM

I don't think I could live without ipods. I bought my ipod shuffle 1st gen. in 2005 and it stopped working in about 2007, but they are still worth buying because they are the best mp3 players out there!


January 11, 2009 07:07 PM

I couldn't live without my ipod. I need music. i think i'm going to have to get a new one, though, because my shuffle isn't working correctly anymore. i need more song space, too. I've had it since april of 2007

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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