"The news was announced in an e-mail sent this afternoon to some Apple employees, a copy of which was seen by Ars Technica. It includes a screenshot of an Excel file showing the top ten music retailers in the US for January 2008, and Apple is at the top of the list. The iTunes Store leads the pack with 19 percent, Wal-Mart (which includes the brick-and-mortar stores as well as its online properties) is second with 15 percent, and Best Buy is third with 13 percent. Amazon is a distant fourth at 6 percent, trailed by the likes of Borders, Circuit City, and Barnes & Noble. Rhapsody is in the tenth slot with 1 percent."
The Arstechnica's article brings out many interesting things, but the most interesting, for me, is that it happened despite the fact that the big four music companies have acted, pretty much in collusion, to do everything that they could to break Apple's power, influence and grip on the music industry. They went out of their way to give everything Apple originally wanted to Amazon and others, such as lower pricing and DRM free songs, for example, all hoping that people would switch from iTunes, because, clearly, for the music companies, Apple was acting too much in the interests of music customers than that of the interests of the music companies. Under Steve Jobs, the idea was to make buying and downloading music not only legal, but as simple, pleasant and as cheaply as possible! You would have thought that the music companies would have appreciated that Apple, with iTunes, was the first outside company that did anything positive to help them battle the scourge of illegal download sites, all of which have hammered the traditional music companies to the point of utter collapse.
Also, according to Arstechnica:
"This is a monumental event for Apple, because while the company may not be guaranteed the top spot for eternity—or even the following month—it is something many thought would never happen. But in closing, rest assured that this report is accurate."
Well, as true as that may be, what is most important, to me, is not that it is a victory so much for Apple, but more importantly, it is a victory for us, the consumers of music. Had the music companies gotten their way, it would have only been a matter of time before we would have been forced to pay higher prices for the music we download. Maybe we would have ended up with more choices, from more companies, all struggling to compete among themselves, but the way I see it, I rather have a few good choices than a lot of bad choices to pick from.
So, in conclusion, I think it's time that the big music companies trim their greed, their pride and start working with Apple to make iTune a better experience for everyone concerned: the customers, iTune and the music companies themselves! It's time for the music companies to stop penalizing Apple for it's success; it's time for the music companies to stop discriminating against Apple and it's iTune service by favoring Amazon, etc., and to give Apple what it proposed long ago - DRM FREE music and a long term contract to sell music, on the behalf of the music companies and for the benefit of we the consumers!
As for other download companies, be they Amazon, eMusic, or whom ever, choice is good, but at least let all companies be on an equal footing. The music companies shouldn't be allowed to discriminate against one company, Apple, just because it puts it's customers first and foremost, or simply because it is successful and has done more to sell music for the big music companies than anyone has ever done before in all of history!
And that's my 2 cents 4 this Thursday, April 3, 2008.
Chart: Arstechnica (Click to enlarge)
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