Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon’s Digital Music Store Takes a Tiny Step Forward, Still Trails Apple by Miles

appleamazonsmallOne other correction/addendum to my earlier piece about music sales and Apple’s market share: Earlier I said that Amazon’s share of the digital download market was unchanged at about eight percent. That’s actually a significant jump, says consumer tracking service NPD Group. A year ago, it pegged Amazon’s share at 5.1 percent.

That’s still a million miles away from Apple’s (AAPL) commanding grip on the digital music market–it has held steady at around the 70 percent mark for years–but it’s better than nothing. And given that it was at zero less than two years ago, not terrible.

The eight percent number sounded familiar to me because that’s the number the music industry has been guesstimating for some time. But NPD’s stats suggest that Amazon (AMZN) has been grabbing share from smaller players. Not included on the list below, for instance, are NPD data showing that Wal-Mart’s (WMT) download store saw its share drop from 1.9 to 1.3 percent. Also of mild interest: Share gains for the RealNetworks (RNWK) Rhapsody Store and, yes, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Zune Marketplace.

Here’s the breakdown (click on chart to enlarge).


But let’s be clear: The digital music download market looks like the search market in that it’s dominated by a single giant player. But it’s not like search in that there aren’t many benefits to running a download store with a relatively small audience: The small margins for music sales mean that you need to be awfully big to make this a significant business. Which is another reason to be wary of would-be music players that point to their plans to sell downloads (think Imeem, and iLike).

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald