Apple's iTunes beats Wal-Mart to become top U.S. music store

CD sales slip, digital sales skyrocket.

By Farhad Manjoo
Published April 4, 2008 8:07PM (UTC)
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Yesterday Ars Technica got hold of a juicy report from the NPD Group, the research firm that tracks U.S. music sales. Apple, the report says, has bested Wal-Mart to become the top music retailer in the country.

This isn't unexpected. Wal-Mart mainly sells CDs, and people are abandoning CDs. Apple sells digital tracks, fast becoming the dominant music format.


According to Ars Technica, NPD puts Apple's share of the music business at 19 percent. Wal-Mart is at 15 percent, Best Buy is at 13, followed by Amazon and Target at 6 percent each.

As Ars notes, Apple's dominance won't be hailed by folks in the music industry. Digital downloads are less profitable than CDs. A previous NPD report showed that Americans bought more music in 2007 than in 2006, but the record industry's revenues fell during the year because many of those new sales were digital.

Silicon Alley Insider is surprised by one aspect of the report: Amazon's low market share despite its introduction of a fantastic MP3 music store. This could be because Amazon, too, still mainly sells CDs -- but does it suggest that Amazon's digital sales efforts aren't going so well?


Let's hope not -- for the good of the music-lovers everywhere, Apple should have some competition.

Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

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