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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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