iPods Hit Vending Machines, Mainstreaming Continues

The iPod sales story is certainly a big one, with the devices continuing to seep into mainstream life.

Most recently, blogger Simon Bisson spotted an iPod vending machine in Concourse A of Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, an unexpected impulse opportunity. That points to a rapidly growing retail imprint, with stranded travelers now able to pick up an iPod while waiting for a flight. Meanwhile, sub-$150 shuffle players have been the latest rage, with Apple grabbing a 58% flash-based market share according to statistics recently published by NPD Group. According to one industry executive, end-cap shuffle placements are simply screaming “buy me” at mega-stores like Best Buy.

The big question for competitors is if and when the Apple domination will ebb. Certainly price pressures are intense, with new discounts coming from companies like Archos, iRiver and Creative. That has caused Apple to respond, with the company now offering devices to match nearly every price range. But according to one San Francisco-based high school freshman Michael Lespina, the cool factor is the most important, with price further down the list. “If you don’t have an iPod,” the 15-year old told Digital Music News, “people either think you are poor or technologically insufficient”. That has many kids scraping together any available funds together to get a new device, though finicky fashion tastes could soon open the door for new players.