In the early 2000s, before the advent of modern smartphones, portable MP3 players were a must-have for young people in the United States and internationally. While the Walkman was long outdated and portable CD players were barely portable, not to mention their hunger for batteries, MP3 players combined the best of both worlds, being truly portable, energy-efficient and able to store many albums at once.
Before the iPhone’s launch in 2007, MP3 players were a multi-billion dollar market in the United States, but, as every modern smartphone moonlights as a top-notch MP3 player, the market quickly crumbled when smartphones hit the mainstream. According to the Consumer Technology Association
, wholesale sales of MP3 players in the U.S. dropped from $2.93 billion in 2013 to $0.77 last year. It’s not all bad for manufacturers of audio equipment
though: as virtually everyone owns a smartphone (hence a portable audio player) these days, the demand for headphones has gone up, with wholesale sales tripling between 2013 and 2018.