There were some of us who owned iPods and listened to music on them. Then there were some of you who never opened them and will now make thousands off them. Congratulations.
Over the last couple of years, the market for collectible iPods has been growing. Now, it’s bursting at the seams. In fact, eBay is inundated with classic iPods dating back several years that are worth as much as $20,000. Other, cheaper options are available for several thousand dollars—a fine return on an investment that only cost a few hundred dollars at the time.
The Guardian on Wednesday published an investigation into how much Apple’s (AAPL) vintage iPods are going for in the collectibles market. The news outlet found that prices have been soaring on iPods released in the early-2000s that are either in mint condition or never opened. The $20,000 iPod, for example, is a second-generation Windows model with 20GB of capacity. Best of all, it’s never been opened, making it even more attractive.
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But that’s just the beginning. A first-generation, still-boxed iPod can go for $14,900 on eBay. Even when the products have been opened and used, collectors are now judging them based on their condition. If found to be in mint condition, first-, second-, or even third-generation iPods are on eBay (EBAY) for several thousand U.S. dollars.
Apple’s iPod was, at one time, the most important product in the company’s lineup, driving billions of dollars in sales. The device was one of many digital media players when it was released in 2001, but it would go on to become the dominant option. That was due in part to its solid design and use of a scroll wheel to help users find digital tracks. It also helped that Apple made it easy to load content onto the device with help from its iTunes software.
Still, all good things must come to an end. In 2014, Apple officially discontinued to the iPod. The move was likely a good one. Apple’s iPod business dived into freefall after the iPhone launched in 2007, offering the ability to store and playback music from the device as well. Apple’s business for smartphones and tablets grew, making consumer desire (and the company’s desire) for dedicated music players a thing of the past.
The idea that the collectibles market has taken such interest in the iPod isn’t all that surprising. Apple products have been among the most sought-after technology collectibles for years, dating all the way back to the company’s Apple I. Apple’s Macintosh and even the ill-fated Apple Newton have also proven popular among collectors. Along the way, they’ve fetched (and continue to get) serious cash on sites like eBay where collectors will often buy products.
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That said, it took those computers and other Apple products a bit longer to attract such attention from collectors. The iPod has become a near-instant hit in the memorabilia market, and judging by its soaring prices, there are no signs of that slowing down.
So, perhaps it’s time to dust off your old iPod, check out eBay, and see if it’s worth anything. Better yet, next time Apple launches a new product category, do yourself a favor and buy two: one you can use and another you can keep wrapped in the box to sell a decade or so later for bundles of cash.