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Apple’s iTunes Now Number Two Music Retailer in the US

itunes2.jpgApple has issued a press release about becoming the number two (behind Wal-Mart) music retailer in the U.S. Best Buy used to have that spot, but music downloads seem to be catching on. Well, that and CD sales are declining rapidly.

Apple claims that 50 million customers have bought over 4 billion songs with 20 million sold on Christmas day alone. That’s impressive even if digital music purchases have yet to offset the decline in CD sales.

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It’s Official: Toshiba Announces Death of HD DVD

HD DVD vs. Blu-rayToshiba today announced that, “it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders.” March 2008 will be the month when the plug is pulled. Just in the last month, we’ve seen Warner Brothers become the latest Hollywood studio to go for Blu-ray while both Blockbuster and Netflix announced plans to phase out HD DVD.

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Wal-Mart Now Offers DRM-Free Downloads But Still Has Issues with Firefox

Wal-MartWal-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.”

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Why Netflix Will Make Online Movie Watching a Reality

Netflixlogo_1If you missed the Netflix news last week, the company announced that it will offer existing subscribers the option of watching movies and TV shows online at no additional cost. So if you pay $18 a month for your regular three DVDs at at time mailing plan, soon you’ll be receiving 18 hours of free online watching time too.

What I found intriguing about the story is that just days and weeks earlier, certain prominent bloggers posted why Netflix is in trouble. Mike Arrington had his post “Why I Am Breaking Up With Netflix” while Robert Scoble had his thoughts on “Netflix is dead.” Both came back with follow up stories after the news release (“Netflix, I Was Just Kidding About Breaking Up With You” and “Netflix tells Scoble he’s wrong” respectively).

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Wal-Mart Releasing Movie Downloads Versus TiVo Adding Commercials

TivologoWalmartlogo Both Wal-Mart and TiVo had some big news today in the area of trying to commercialize the latest advances in digital media. Wal-Mart released its movie download service with a twist: you have to buy the DVD. But for a few bucks extra, you get a download too. TiVo decided to sell advertising space at the end of recorded programs and track how many people watch them. So the question of the day is:

Which of these new services is more likely to succeed (or fail)?

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