Apple has certainly come a long way since its debut in the world of music. From the original iPod, which was an expensive Mac-only device with 5GB of storage and a small monochrome screen, the company has emerged as the top digital audio player vendor and now the top U.S. music retailer.
Citing data from the NPD Group, Apple says its iTunes Store has surpassed Wal-Mart as the prime retailer of all music—not just digital downloads—in the United States. That assertion is based on NPD's MusicWatch survey, which "captures consumer reported past week unit purchases and counts one CD representing 12 tracks, excluding wireless transactions." According to the survey, the iTunes Store came out on top in terms of music sold for both January and February 2008.
Of course, Apple's success may be short-lived, seeing as competitors like Amazon MP3 now offer nothing but digital-rights-management-free music in the ubiquitous MP3 format. The iTunes Store, meanwhile, offers customers a mix of protected and non-protected music in AAC format.