The iPod Year in Review 2006: Evolution, Not Revolution

Did 2006 live up to your iPod expectations? Were you expecting more? What’s coming in 2007? Share your thoughts in the Comments thread below!

As we think back to last year’s iPod Year in Review, we can’t help but remember the optimism we felt going in to 2006: Apple Computer had for the entire year not only dominated the digital media player market, and popular mindshare, but was preparing us for a new year of even faster-paced innovations. If 2005 had been impressive, 2006 was going to be staggering.

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Measured by total iPod and accessory sales volume, 2006 was a great year. But in terms of excitement, it was a disappointment. Apple’s brilliantly staggered 2005 new hardware launches weren’t repeated – one event saw the simultaneous release of mostly incremental upgrades to all three prior iPod models – and some of the iPod’s buzz fizzled as a consequence. Despite record-breaking sales – more iPods were sold in 2006 than from 2001-2005 combined, and the accessory economy grew to an estimated $2 billion – vocal Apple opponents managed to steal iPod thunder for their own products, even if they had to resort to dirty tricks to do so.

Our extended iPod history feature (Five Year Dynasty: iPod + iTunes) with 2006’s significant milestones can be found in our free 2007 iPod Buyers’ Guide; like last year, this Year in Review takes a more opinionated look at what went right and wrong over the past 12 months, finishing with a brief look ahead. Use the “Click here for the story” buttons below to read as much or as little as you prefer.

iPod and iTunes: A Year Too Predictable? (Click here for the story.)

Accessories: More, and More of the Same (Click here for the story.)

The Rise of New iPod Competitors (Click here for the story.)

What’s Next? (Click here for the story.)

Parting Thoughts

As we prepare to leave 2006 and start 2007, we remain confident that the iPod will have an impressive next 12 months: this will likely be the year when the 100 millionth iPod is sold – literally years ahead of the Walkman hitting that milestone – and iTunes Store sales will continue to be counted in billions, while competitors struggle for millions. After a 2006 that was strong on numbers but weak on excitement, it’s our feeling that users and companies on the iPod bandwagon will have an even better 2007; exciting new hardware releases will only be the start of it.

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What do you think? Did you think 2006 was great for the iPod? What are you hoping for in 2007? We look forward to reading your comments and thoughts below.