Apple's iTunes overtakes Amazon in overall music sales
No.3 Apple trails only Wal-Mart and Best Buy in the first quarter of 2007.
Strong holiday sales helped Apple's iTunes push past Amazon and take third place in overall music sales during the first quarter, according to a new report.
A spike in iPod sales over Christmas drove new device owners to, and helped Apple grab 9.8 percent of the overall music market, according to the report, issued Friday by the NPD Group.
Amazon came in fourth with a 6.7 share, according to NPD's figures. Wal-Mart was tops in the quarter with 15.8 percent and runner-up Best Buy snagged 13.8 percent.
Apple managed to capture a larger slice of the market share even though the music industry is mired in a slump. Russ Crupnick, an NPD senior analyst, said that music sales are down 20 percent for the first half of the year.
"This is just another sign of a fundamental shift from physical to digital music," said Crupnick, who also credited Apple with helping to spur the shift. "If they didn't have a superior ecosystem, you wouldn't see so many new digital music buyers."
Crupnick said Apple still must prove that it can grow music sales year-round. He noted that iPod owners buy a little more than 20 songs on average and that number hasn't grown much. Apple also could face competition from Wal-Mart and Amazon.
Wal-Mart has already opened a download store and Amazon is expected to launch one later this year.
"Amazon has outstanding credibility with heavy music buyers," Crupnick said. "It's too soon to tell what's going to happen, but Amazon already has the customer relationships. I'm a big believer in pre-existing customer relationships."