One Hundred Million Is A Lot Of iPods And Good News For Podcasting

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I was speaking this morning for a large cable TV channel on the topic of Six Pixels of Separation – How Marketing Connects In A World Where We-re All Connected. Beyond it being a core passion of mine, I like collecting information: stats, quotes, viral videos and mashing them all together to show corporations this new marketing landscape.
I have two slides. One has this quote on it: -The last number I-ve seen published by Apple on iPod sales is 42 million sold since 2004. And a recent Forrester report says that 29% of the 42 millions buyers have downloaded a podcast. Another 27% said they were interested in podcasting, and 11% were going to try it in the next three months.- (source: Paul Dunay – Buzz Marketing for Technology – May 2006) and then I switch to this quote: -iPod sales accounted for $3.43 billion of the company’s revenue, or nearly half the quarterly total. Apple’s total number of iPod sales now stands at about 90 million units since the device first went on sale in October 2001-The iPod sales were shocking, said Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray.- (source: MarketWatch – January 18th, 2007). Both slides are a component of my Podcasting segment and used to illustrate how fast the Podcasting channel is growing and where the opportunities lie.
The presentation went quite well, they were engaged and know that they need to focus on all three screens. After my talk, a person came up to me with a print-out of the top stories from the Apple website. He said that he was not a part of the TV channel, but worked for the venue and had read something that I might find interesting. It was highlighted:
100 Million iPods Sold
Apple today announced that the 100 millionth iPod has been sold, making the iPod the fastest selling music player in history. The first iPod was sold five and a half years ago, in November 2001, and since then Apple has introduced more than 10 new iPod models.-
One hundred million iPods, thousands of Podcasts (both audio and video) and millions of people listening – not just on their own with ear buds, but through computers, docking the iPod into car and home theatres- connecting, listening and creating content.
Marketers are paying attention – we tend to do that when things hit critical mass. The difference between now (one hundred million iPods) and then (the Walkman) is a gap that makes the Grand Canyon look like a crack in the sidewalk when you consider what you can do with an iPod and the channel of content distribution in comparison to an audio tape player.
Podcasting may still be stuck in the echo chamber, but people – thousands of them each day – are discovering more than just Podcasting. They-re discovering content that that they can control – from content choice, to where and when they will listen (or watch).
With one hundred million iPods out in the marketplace and no sign of slowdown (plus, this doesn-t include the millions of other digital audio players or even how Apple TV could change the video Podcast game), the need for content will continue to grow- and that must be the New Marketers- sweet spot.


  1. The thing that intrigues and confuses me the most about your post, Mitch, is the last handful of words… The “New Marketers’ Sweet Spot”. Here’s why:
    On one side, someone looking to use podcasting for marketing can create a podcast for their store, or for their product… Look at the Will It Blend guys. For this subset of people, the 100 million ipods, and the number of podcast consumers, in both video and audio, is wonderful.
    But there’s the other side too. What about the mass number on non-commerically-oriented shows. Say, Galacticast, who aren’t trying to push a product, but change the TV/Radio landscape. The way I see it, the second side of marketing using podcasting is monetizing these shows via product placements, pre-roll ads, or all-out sponsorships. The catch to this side is that the old media is still confused by the new media folk.
    I know you (and TI) focus on the former more and less on the later, but I thought I’d mention the other side anyway. It’s all about the conversations, right Mitch?

  2. The only thing we have to be careful of is to not fall into the VC pitch trap, and by that I mean the inevitable claim made to VCs about potential consumer base. “Our product has a potential market of 6 billion people!” and so on. 100 million physical devices is terrific – glad to see the overall market growing and expanding.
    The trick now is to co-opt more messages towards podcasting. For example, it’d be great to be able to hijack the recording industry’s message – don’t pirate music – into “Lots of free legal music over here in podcasting!”. Likewise for TV shows and movies – the faster and more effectively podcast marketers can hjiack the mainstream messages, the more we can grow our audiences.
    What ideas do YOU have for growing the podcasting audience?

  3. is podcasting about the message or the medium?
    i’d be more interested the amount of times iTunes has been downloaded because, let’s face it, how many people actually listent to podcasts on their iPods?

  4. We need to take the 100 million with a grain of salt. Let’s see, about 10 million had batteries that died and rendered them useless. Another 20 million were dropped, stepped on, run over, eaten by dogs. Given the popularity with teenagers, at least a third of them, let’s say 30 million were just lost or left at a friend’s house in a pocket that went through the laundry. Probably 30 million were sold in China and they’re not listening to our podcasts. That leaves hardly any ipods out here….
    Andy Strote

  5. This is a great train of comments.
    Tommy – I think companies will fare better if they create content as media – like what Whirlpool is doing with their American family values podcast or what Cheerios is doing with their Podcast on how to raise a healthy child. Of course there is place for independently produced content like the glorious Galacticast, but companies should not be looking at product placement (IMHO), they should be creating content that is in demand, but does not exist… and create it themselves.
    Chris raises all of the right points. It’s not about how many devices, but rather what you can do with it that’s so dramatic and different.
    Ed even deepens the conversation. If 100 million iPods have been sold but we know most people just listen to Podcasts through their desktop computers – imagine what the market really does look like? Does iTunes let you know how many downloads have been done?
    As for Andy: I hear what your saying, but I still think that the 100 million is significant and we need to throw on top of that how many people have digital audio devices that are not iPods plus how many people listen to digital audio (or video) directly on their computer? The number is significant as is the market.

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