More than a few of you will probably get iTunes gift cards in your stockings this year. And why not? With a whopping 66.2% of the digital music market according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple is the clear leader. In fact, its share of the market actually rose four percentage points from last year.
iTunes wasn't the only digital music service on the rise, though. Amazon MP3's slice of the pie increased from 11% to 13.3% over the same period, solidifying the online retailer's position as Apple's biggest competitor. Jobs and company had a head start, of course. Amazon didn't get into the downloadable music scene until 2007, some four years after Apple bagan hawking tracks with iTunes.
One of the biggest benefits of buying music online is being able to purchase tracks individually. Interestingly, single-song sales appear to have plateaued; the WSJ says they rose only 0.3% over the last year. Sales of downloadable albums, on the other hand, have risen 13% since 2009. That trend should favor Amazon, which has made a point of offering full-album downloads at lower prices than what's available from iTunes. However, Apple customers have long shown a willingness to pay extra to remain within the Reality Distortion Field.
Interestingly, the WSJ points out that Amazon hasn't done much to promote its MP3 service. Apple is considerably more aggressive, perhaps because it doesn't have to worry about cannibalizing sales of physical media. Amazon still sells plenty of music the old-fashioned way, and that's how I buy most of my own music. MP3s are undoubtedly the future of the music industry, though, and Apple still has a commanding dominance of that market may be unassailable.