Another recession effect: Apple (AAPL) might sell fewer iPods this Christmas than it did a year ago, the first time that’s ever happened.
Wall Street expects Apple to ship 18.6 million iPods this quarter, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. That would represent a 16% year-over-year decline, from 22.1 million iPods shipped during the December quarter last year. (Munster’s extrapolation of October iPod sales estimates suggests Apple could actually ship as many as 19 million iPods this quarter. But that’s still below last year’s mark.)
The decline would cap off years of declining December quarter iPod shipment growth: 525% in 2004; 207% in 2005; 50% in 2006; and 5% in 2007. For many of those quarters, iPod revenue was 40% to 50% of Apple’s total December quarter sales.
The good news, of course, is that there’s a new product in town: Apple’s red-hot iPhone, which is leading growth in its portable gadget division. Munster expects Apple to ship 6.4 million iPhones this quarter, almost triple the 2.3 million it sold during the December quarter last year.
That suggests Apple could ship 25 million iPods and iPhones combined this quarter, up 2.3% from last year, when it shipped 24.44 iPods and iPhones combined in the December quarter. This is still weak unit growth. But Apple sells its iPhones for about $500-$600 wholesale (or more), which is between 3x and 4x the $150 or so it gets for each iPod sold.
It’s possible iPod growth could bounce back, especially if Apple extends the iPod touch into some sort of mini-computing/tablet platform. But the iPod, for now, is out as Apple’s growth driver. These days, that’s the iPhone and the Mac.
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