PONO Has Only Sold ‘Tens of Thousands’ of Units

More evidence that only a tiny sliver of music listeners actually care about high-quality sound.

young_pono_10s

Last year, PONO garnered $6.2 million in Kickstarter cash, with an additional $6 million piled on from private equity.  Assuming (generous) sales of 25,000 units, here’s how sales of PONO devices compare to sales of the first-generation iPod, released in 2001, at the same point.

Pono_v_iPod_sales_3Q

iPod sales source: Apple financial statements and sales disclosures.  

30 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    I’ve told you year ago: nerdy idea created by nerds to be used by nerds, endorsed by famous Neil Young! WOW!

    Dear MUSIC INDUSTRY,
    It is overdue to beg GOOGLE and his MAJESTY Larry Page to change the game board, lock up the music in virtual walls and convert all of Radio and all of streaming to primitive DISCOVERY based MUSIC STORE.

    Google will double it’s revenues as we create $200B music industry by 2020.

    Reply
      • Remi Swierczek

        Tell me why? I would love to here you non stupid arguments.
        Honestly I am tired with my observation of extremely stupid music industry.

        “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
        ― Albert Einstein

        Reply
  2. Insider

    Holy cow – the first generation Pono is doing more than 10% as well as the first generation iPod? And this is evidence that it’s a failure??

    Reply
    • cuz

      Indeed – scale by target market much? Pono is targeted at the HIFI market. In most other playback hardware, the HIFI segment is well under 10% – they’re doing really well!

      However, as most of those tens of thousands were kickstarter preorders, be interesting to see the *next* set of figures…

      Reply
      • Remi Swierczek

        Guys you’re confused. Tesla will sell 50,000 cars this year and it is still niche activity.

        Pono is an ugly disaster from inception.
        Streaming is the only way to go with Radio and streamers functioning as a conventional music store.

        Reply
      • Paul Resnikoff
        Paul Resnikoff

        Oh right, I forgot about all those pre-orders. Also, keep in mind that initial iPod orders were considered sluggish, it was still ramping upward when it first came out (and Mac only).

        Reply
      • Name2

        We actually haven’t really seen the first-round set of numbers. Paul Resnikoff pulled the 25,000 figure from the same orifice he pulls most of his “numbers” from.

        Reply
      • Name2

        We actually haven’t really seen the first-round set of numbers.

        Paul Resnikoff pulled the 25,000 figure from the same orifice he pulls most of his “numbers” from.

        Reply
  3. Name2

    Of course, Resnikoff ignores the “hundreds of thousands of tracks” bit. The lowest price point I’ve seen for a Hi-res album download @pono is $11.98 and that’s for well-worn Who catalog.

    But sure, take cheap shots at one of the few outfits still operating as if music had intrinsic value, actually increasing prices, selling downloads (and not just headache-inducing noise for tweens), and not letting it become a completely commodified noisefest.

    But hey, that “Catalog Forever!” guy? HE’S the visionary.

    Reply
    • There is something...

      Most people (and that include probably many Pono users) can’t tell the difference between a correctly encoded MP3 and a WAV file in an A/B test. Most people (and again many Pono users) are not using good listening devices (speakers / headphones) and / or well treated rooms. So there is no point in paying for premium files when your listening experience will not change at all.

      Reply
      • Name2

        a correctly encoded MP3 and a WAV file in an A/B test

        A/B Tests are meaningless and bolster a false equivalency thanks to trickery. Speaking for myself personally, I can tell you when I’ve reached my listening limit on compressed music. It’s about 20 minutes in when I’m headachey and my mood is “inexplicably” foul.

        And I’m mystfied as to what a “correctly encoded” MP3 might be.

        So there is no point in paying for premium files when your listening experience will not change at all.

        For Apple’s shitty-sounding files, 29 cents would be premium pricing.

        Reply
        • There is something...

          Ah ah, whatever ! It’s always amazing when “audiophiles” try to find a justification. But you avoided the point about listening to music on devices or in an environment that makes the “high resolution” meaningless. And that’s what 99,9% of people listening music do.

          Reply
          • Name2

            Ah ah, whatever ! It’s always amazing when “audiophiles” try to find a justification.

            Um, “I can’t listen to shitty MP3s.” is pretty straightforward. You wanna call that “justification”, go ahead. It’s a free country. I never called myself an audiophile, and I don’t buy $200 cables. So please come pick up your strawman. I put it over ————————-> there.

            But you avoided the point about listening to music on devices

            What does that even mean? Turntables are devices. TVs are devices. Pads, tablets, phones, ponos and fiios are all devices. Are you high?

            or in an environment that makes the “high resolution” meaningless. And that’s what 99,9% of people listening music do.

            In the heady days of vinyl, the market was always able to support both BSR and Bang & Olufsen. And “99,9%” of listeners were somewhere in between. It’s a big, wide market out there. Not all of it is about a race to the bottom.

          • There is something...

            You “can’t” listen to mp3… I won’t argue about that, but if it’s true then you’re in the minority. Great for you, you’re the 0.1%, but it doesn’t change the fact that most users will not notice the difference, event after a long period of listening.

            A bout devices, I pointed in my first comment to headphones and speakers. Yes most people listen on music on shitty computer speaker or headphone that over hype some frequencies and kill others, messing all the listening experience.

            As for the market, portable standalone audio player like Pono and iPod are going to be less and less relevant. With streaming, people need a device that can connect to the net without using a computer. Sure, there will still be some niche market for a few years, and good for Pono if they can stay afloat in a niche market. But if you take that into account, Paul’s number about Pono’s sales look quite good and there nothing to rant about because it doesn’t have the potential to go much higher.

          • Name2

            With streaming, people need a device that can connect to the net without using a computer.

            Most home users aren’t really feeling the pinch of monthly data caps yet.

            Get back to us about music’s bright streaming future when caps start to become a problem for mainstream users, and the kids once again have to budget, choosing between spending (their bandwidth) on games or film or music.

            Don’t worry, Paul will keep his “Fuck You Pay Me” icon warm.

          • There is something...

            People in advanced countries spend most of the day in places covered with wifi access. Also, some phone companies have “no limit” data plan, some exclude big streaming services from plan limitation. With temporary local storage, it’s easy to manage your library without a computer even if you’re not always connected. Clearly easier than with an iPod.

          • Name2

            Well, that settles that, then. Everything IS coming up roses.

  4. Name2

    More evidence that only a tiny sliver of music listeners actually care about high-quality sound.

    And itunes’ free-falling music sales numbers are evidence of…..?

    Reply
  5. J.Gagnon

    I just checked out a you tube interview he’s a true expert on music , and recording history ,,,, there’s no bullshit on what he’s saying on this product , I’m sold on the truth of the Pono quality!

    Reply
  6. scorn100

    I’d like to know if “tens of thousands” include those who bought it thru their kickstarter. I think that anyone who actually holds it and listens to it (like at a big box retailer) will likely not purchase this device. Pono had a booth at CES this year. It was very tiny. You’d think with $12mil raised that they would have spent a little more money promoting it at the most influential consumer trade show in the world.

    Reply
  7. James

    “More evidence that only a tiny sliver of music listeners actually care about high-quality sound.”

    How about “More evidence that Pono’s sound quality isn’t any better than your smartphone’s sound”?? High-quality sound is just Pono’s silly marketing. Don’t fall for it when writing your article, repeating Young’s BS in the process.

    Read this for more information:
    http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html

    Reply
    • Name2

      the above files should be completely silent with no audible noises, tones, whistles, clicks, or other sounds. If you hear anything, your system has a nonlinearity causing audible intermodulation of the ultrasonics.

      Or, you have a shitty Dell desktop and that’s the noise your fan and hard drives are making.

      but whatevs, sure. It’s REALLY evidence of TEH CONSPIRACY.

      Reply
  8. John Galt

    First off, Neil Young is an talentless idiot. Jimmy Fallon’s Neil Young impression is better that anything Neil Young has ever done.

    Secondly, PONO has many design and feature flaws, the most obvious being its’ ridiculous shape and size.

    And lastly, it’s not necessarily that “only a tiny sliver of music listeners actually care about high-quality sound”, it’s may just be that those of us that do care about high quality sound do so in the privacy of our homes, on our high quality sound systems, not on a portable player.

    Reply
  9. Name2

    I use my pono exclusively indoors, at home. HTH.

    And while I also find Young to be a talentless idiot, I also find pono to be awesome.

    Reply
    • John Galt

      Cool, that makes you and 24,999 other who think PONO is awesome.

      That is of course assuming the other 24,999 people who purchased it think it is awesome…which may be a stretch.

      Reply
      • Name2

        1) No one is saying how many pono (ponani?) were sold with more specificity than “tens of thousands”. Except for Paul Resnikoff, who sat down and make a pretty chart with a made-up number he pulled out of thin air. (The only thing missing from that chart is a visit to Blingee.)

        2) As I’m sure you know, Mr. Galt, a free market is all about individual choices and preferences, not a model where there is one centrally planned Music Economy, and anybody who strays outside the line gets sued, fined, imprisoned, cut off from the Internet, or whatever Rightscorp is in the mood for. Why would an actual free-market kinda guy like yourself throw such bile at 25,000(?) people making their own choices and voting with their own dollars?

        Reply

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