As quickly as new technology gives rise to innovative new consumer products, it drives the last batch of once-exciting electronics into obsolescence. Nothing has made that cycle more apparent than the rise of the smartphone, an ever-improving staple for consumers who are always connected to the internet, digital media, and all kind of communities, both real-life and virtual, via social media. Many single-use devices, like MP3 players and cameras, have been replaced by apps and services that users can access on their smartphones or tablets. Read on for 10 tech products that seemed innovative when they were introduced but are on their way out.
Sales of MP3 players — and the most iconic product in the category, Apple’s iPod — have been shrinking for years. Since reaching 54.8 million in 2008, iPod sales began an overall decline as the iPhone was introduced. Because the iPhone could handle all of the functions of the iPod and more, there was a dwindling need for a standalone music player, and that continues to hold true as smartphones give users access not only to a local library of MP3 files, but to a growing array of apps that grant access to a cloud-based library of practically any song they could want.
Sales of the iPod have declined steadily since 2009. Apple recently reported that in the fourth quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, it sold just 2.6 million iPods, down 24 percent year over year. While Apple press releases still include the line that “Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store,” the iPod business is steadily shrinking, cannibalized by growing sales of iPhones — of which the company sold 39.2 million in the fourth quarter. Even for users who haven’t replaced extensive libraries of MP3 files with Spotify playlists and instant access to any artist, album, or song via a growing array of streaming apps, smartphones offer an ever-increasing amount of memory to store media locally.
With the iPod classic discontinued and Apple no longer giving the iPod its own category in financial reports, the MP3 player is fading fast. While these standalone devices still have their appeal for athletes, children who are too young to need a smartphone, or consumers who don’t want to upgrade to a smartphone, the days of carrying both a phone and an MP3 player are over.