Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Wal-Mart Shutters Digital Music Store You Didn’t Know Existed

From the “fallen tree in the woods” file: Wal-Mart will stop selling MP3s from its Web site this month.

Wal-Mart sold MP3s from its Web site?

Exactly. For the record: The company wasn’t always a complete non-factor in digital music. For a couple years it was a very, very, very, very minor factor.

NPD estimated Wal-Mart’s share of the U.S. digital music market at 1.8 percent at the beginning of 2008. But by the end of last year that number had dropped below one percent, placing it behind Amazon, Zune, Rhapsody and Napster.

And, of course, Apple, which has consistently owned the overwhelming share of the digital music market since the iTunes store launched back in 2003.

It would be easy enough to document Wal-Mart’s missteps — embracing Microsoft’s now-defunct Windows Media Audio standard, for instance — but the truth is that no one has ever made any headway against Apple in this market, ever. Amazon is by the far the best non-Apple performer, and even it hasn’t been able to garner more much than 10 percent of the market.

So cut the world’s biggest physical retailer just a teeny tiny bit of slack.

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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