Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Maybe Apple Should Pay Attention to Amazon, After All

Some interesting context for federal regulators looking at Apple’s monopoly position in digital music: New data show Amazon making a bit of headway in its attempt to take on iTunes.

Amazon’s MP3 store now has 12 percent of the digital download market in the U.S., according to NPD Group. That’s up from eight percent a year ago. But those sales don’t seem to have come at Apple’s expense: NPD puts the iTunes market share at 70 percent, compared with 69 percent a year ago.

So who’s losing market share? NPD hasn’t explained (yet). But based on previous surveys from the data company, I assume it’s some combination of Rhapsody, Microsoft’s (MSFT) Zune marketplace and Napster. And if I had to guess, I’d point to Napster, which has really struggled since Best Buy (BBY) purchased it in 2008.

UPDATE: I was wrong! Looks like Amazon’s gain stems primarily from Rhapsody’s loss. The music subscription service, which also sells downloads, saw its share drop from four percent to 1.3 percent within the last year (see table below; click to enlarge).

In any case, the new data show Amazon making steady, grinding progress. Which makes reports of Apple strong-arming music labels that gave exclusives to Amazon a little more interesting.

Meanwhile, Apple (AAPL) remains the biggest player in music retail, period. NPD says it now owns 28 percent of the U.S. market, up from 24 percent a year ago. Amazon (AMZN) is also up, from nine percent to 12 percent, which ties Wal-Mart (WMT) for second place.

[Image credit: Paolo Camera]

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik