Media Shoddy Journalism


Curious article here from the normally sane Charles Arthur in The Guardian, which opens with:

The invitation to Apple’s event on Wednesday at the Yerba Buena centre in San Francisco shows an acoustic guitar, with a soundhole in the shape of the Apple logo. Seasoned watchers of the company know that this is the time of year when the iPod gets a refresh, yet there’s a shadow over the digital music player that turned Apple from an also-ran computer company into a force in the technology world.

The latest sales figures for the quarter to June showed 9m sold – the lowest quarterly number since 2006. In short, the iPod, launched in October 2001, looks to be in terminal decline. While Apple is unworried – sales of its iPhone and iPad are booming – the drooping figures for the digital music player market are a concern for another sector: the music companies.

Some slightly disingenuous logic there, I think. I don’t see how you can consider iPod sales in isolation and use those as a basis for doom and gloom pronouncements on the state of the music industry as a whole.

For starters, you can’t just take iPhone sales out of the equation and pretend like that doesn’t matter, given that it is essentially an iPod with phone functionality. Why would any of those people contributing to the booming sales of the iPhone bother buying an iPod too? Surely no one loves Apple that much…

But more importantly, what does a decline in sales of the iPod have to do with downloads anyway? Isn’t this an issue of market saturation? There are only so many people in the world after all. How often does Charles Arthur think you need to replace your iPod?

But as iPod sales slow, digital music sales, which have been yoked to the device, are likely to slow too.

Why? My chunky 2005 vintage iPod still does a perfectly good job of playing music downloads.

Just because there are fewer and fewer people left who don’t own some form of iPod, it doesn’t mean that digital downloads are doomed.

Of course the small matter of whether people choose to download music legally, and whether they choose to pay for it is another issue entirely…