Ars Technica has the scoop on a “new” study which shows how Apple’s iTunes is “widening its lead in the digital music market at the expense of other top brands.” The name of the article, in fact, is Competition unable to take a big bite out of Apple’s iTunes. The article could be interesting, what with its data, charts, and supposed analysis. But it has one major problem that invalidates most everything said:
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Wal-Mart is trying to step up its competition with Apple iTunes. The retail giant, which is already the No. 1 seller of recorded music because of CD sales, will now sell digital downloads of songs without any copy protection (DRM) via walmart.com for 94 cents a track, or $9.22 an album. The service will launch with music from two of the major record labels: Universal Music and EMI.
The company plans to continue offering its existing WMA protected format for other music downloads, which cost 88 cents a track but won’t work with iPods and plenty of other digital music players. Here’s what Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart senior director for digital media, had to say, “As we consistently strive to help our customers shop smart at Wal-Mart, our new ‘DRM-free’ MP3 digital tracks give them the ease and flexibility to play music on virtually any device at a great value.”
Looks like rumors are afloat that Amazon is planning on a late first quarter 2007 launch of a new music download store. In an already crowded music download market, Amazon hopes to differentiate itself in two major ways:
The company is apparently telling labels (politely, I’m sure) that it is only interested in selling DRM-free mp3s (meaning, once you download the song, it’s yours for whatever purpose you see fit, no more restrictions like you can burn only X amount of times or you can only have it reside on X computers, etc.). The second difference is that Amazon seems interested in offering variable pricing.