Apple iPod in Holding Pattern

Has the iPod finally peaked? According to BusinessWeek, some analysts believe this will be the first quarter since the iconic music player was introduced in 2001 that sales will decline compared to the same quarter the previous year.

“The reality is there’s a limited group of people who want an iPod or any other portable media player,” said analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray in the article. “So the question becomes, what does Apple do about it?”

In the end, it may not matter because of the iPhone and the recent increase in Mac sales. But the numbers, quoted from the report, are telling:

– Apple brought in $5 billion in 2001, but a stunning $32 billion in the fiscal year ended on Sept. 30.

– Growth for the iPod line averaged more than 200% in 2006 and 2007, before falling to 6% in fiscal 2008.

– Munster is predicting the actual number of iPods sold to tumble 12% next year, to about 48 million units.

By any account, the latter is still a huge number. But this could mark a turning point for the company. Some had already predicted that when the iPhone was first launched, since it’s also an iPod.