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Wednesday, 27 February 2008 05:17

iTunes Store takes number two spot in US

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The iTunes Store has taken less than five years to become the second-biggest music retailer in the US.

That claim is based on the NPD Group's MusicWatch survey, which found the only retailer to outsell iTunes during 2007 was Wal-Mart.

The figures are a little rubbery in that every physical CD sold is counted as 12 tracks, and wireless transactions are excluded. You're welcome to argue the toss about how reasonable that is.

This step towards the top of the tree covers a period when Apple pioneered the sale of DRM-free music from major labels, yet it also got a raw deal from some of labels which are restricting it to DRM-infected content even though they are selling the real deal through other outlets, notably Amazon.

Whether Apple will be able to maintain its number two position during 2008 remains to be seen.

But what caught my eye were the few hard numbers in Apple's announcement. In particular, over 50 million customers have purchased over four billion songs. That four billion is a cumulative figure, and since Apple always sends me an $0.00 invoice when I download a free song of the week, I'm guessing it includes freebies.

So that's an average of 80 songs each, or less than seven albums using NPD's metric. Not very much, is it, especially if some weren't paid for. I suppose it reflects how little music we're buying these days.

Nevertheless, becoming the second-biggest music retailer in the US is an achievement for Apple. Holding that ranking in the face of renewed competition from Amazon may be an even bigger deal.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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