In June 2011 Apple revealed it has sold a cumulative 222m iOS devices and ‘more than 33m’ in the quarter. In September 2010 it gave a figure of 125m. Since Apple discloses iPhone and iPad unit sales, we can therefore calculate it has sold around 64m iPod Touches since it launched in 2007, around 20m in the last 9 months and slightly less than 4m in the June quarter.
Quite how much revenue this equals is a little hazy, since the entry price of the Touch has varied between $229 and $300 and of course we don’t know the mix of more expensive models. But minimum iPod Touch revenue in the last 9 months was $4.7bn, and total revenue since launch is probably between $15bn and $17.5bn.
Just for (slightly unfair) comparison, Nintendo has sold about 148m DSs since 2005, and 87m Wiis since 2007. In the last 9 months (the period in which Apple sold 20.5m Touches), it sold 17m DSs and 12m Wiis. So the Touch is now comfortably outselling Nintendo.
The iPod Touch has little meaningful competition. There are several Android based devices with notionally similar features, but they often lack an integrated music store and Android in general has a far weaker games selection than iOS, so I would expect these devices to have limited appeal for the time being.
If nothing else, that is not a positive sign for the prospects of non-Apple tablets.
Meanwhile, the Touch gives Apple a unique lever for the broader iOS platform. It is a gateway to the iOS platform for users who are not addressable by the iPhone, whether because they are children, prefer another device such as a Blackberry or prefer a mobile network that doesn’t offer the iPhone (though this latter category is fast shrinking). It also makes a cheaper test device available for developers.
However, Apple consistently states that the iPod Touch is 50% of iPod sales, and these are in sustained decline as the space is cannibalised by phones – not least iPhones.
Of course, Airplay mirroring of apps will be launched next month. If Apple extends that to the Touch (almost certain) and licenses Airplay to TV makers, then the Touch will get a whole new lease of life disrupting the console business.
This is an extract from a longer report produced for Enders Analysis: “The Mobile Platform Wars”