Why Is Apple Launching A New Version Of The iPod?


(This post originally appeared on Forbes)

Just this past week, Apple announced that it was releasing a new version of the iPod Touch for $199. Wait, what?

Yes, you heard right. And there are plenty of cool things about it. The sixth-generation iPod Touch now features the A8 processor used in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with options for slow-motion and burst image capture modes. The device also has faster Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity support, added motion hardware for fitness tracking, and benefits from Apple’s new iOS 8.4 operating system and the new Apple Music service.

But it’s still an iPod! Do you know anyone that uses an iPod? Why would Apple be selling a new version of the iPod in a world where there’s the iPhone? The answer is easy: Because there are still blacksmiths.

I can explain. Last year, Apple sold $2.3 billion worth of iPods worldwide. $2.3 billion! Of course, the sales of iPods have declined substantially over the years. And $2.3 billion represents less than 1% of Apple’s total revenue. But what company would walk away from that amount of sales, as long as a product line is profitable? Clearly not Apple. Sometimes even older technologies make sense, particularly to smart business people. Just ask my friend Shawn.

Shawn (yes, he is a real person) is an independent consultant who specializes in supporting a software product that is no longer sold. The product was formerly known as Accpac and is now owned and sold as Sage 300 ERP. It’s a great accounting product. But the version that Shawn supports is not Sage’s version. It is a much, much older version of the product line. A version that hasn’t existed in years. But guess what? There are still plenty of companies that are still using this older, seemingly out-of-date technology. And a significant part of Shawn’s living is helping them. They’re using the iPod when they could be using the iPhone. Why? Because it works for them.

There are still millions of people who read physical books in these days of the Kindle. There are millions more who get their news from newspapers even when so many others get theirs online. There is an Amtrak service that runs daily from Philadelphia to Miami even though you could fly there in a fraction of the time. There remains millions of PC users around the world in this age of the tablet. There are more than 500 blacksmiths still operating in America. There are dozens of religious communities that still use the horse and buggy as their primary means of transportation. And then there are guys like Shawn, who caters to a handful of small business owners who cling to older technology and who need someone to support them. It’s a big world, where there are markets for everything. A technology that many would poo-poo as out of date may still be very useful and desirable to some. And if it’s making them happy or profitable who’s to argue?

So if you’re thinking of upgrading your technology to the “latest and greatest” thing, think again. The small business owners that Shawn supports are profitable ones. They’ve survived over the years by keeping their overhead low and watching every penny that goes out the door. They’re using old computers and old software. But their method works. Sure, the newer stuff has more features and is more up to date. But smart business owners like Shawn’s clients aren’t romanced by this. They spend their money only when they need to and when there’s a specific return on investment. There will always be people around like Shawn who can service you just like there are still blacksmiths, trains to Miami and iPods. Technology doesn’t have to be cutting edge, or even new, for it to help you be quicker, better and wiser.


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