iTunes Sells 25 Percent of US Music

music measureHow much weight does the iTunes music store have to throw around?  A ton according to new data released from market tracking firm NPD.

Measuring unit sale in the first half of 2009, NPD MusicWatch reports Apple’s music store now accounts for a quarter of U.S. music sales. That’s not a quarter of digital sales, it’s 25 percent of everything.

During the first half of 2009, while CD sales continued to erode, digital music sales grew to 35% of the market, up from 20 percent in 2007 and 30 percent in 2008.  According to Russ Crupnick , NPD’s vice president of entertainment industry analysis, “with digital music sales growing at 15 to 20 percent, and CDs falling by an equal proportion, digital music sales will nearly equal CD sales by the end of 2010."

iTunes’ lead in the digital market is massive. Apple owned 69 percent of the digital music market in the first half of 2009.  Amazon, in a very distant second, held 8 percent.

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The Search Race: ComScore Measures July

search measureWith internet traffic and usage, there are any of number of firms that track behavior. ComScore, Nielsen, Quantcast, and Pew, to name a handful.  Each tries to provide insight into what’s popular, what’s growing – where the trends are.  Each can be valuable but each can have its limitations too.

From one to the next, results can often differ in the detail.  And even within the results of a single firm’s measurements, a pattern appearing in a short period of time often disappears across a broader swath.  

Such is the nature of statistics.  As an old saying aptly puts it: facts are stubborn but statistics pliable.  Slice em up or sort ‘em the right way and you can tell a lot of different stories.

That said, disclaimers thrown front and center, comScore released its search engine marketshare measurements for July on Monday.  (release)

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Amazon’s Big Brother Behavior Brings Suit

kindlesIf you were to define irony by example, a book seller going “Big Brother” and secretly deleting your previously purchased copy of 1984 is about as letter perfect as you can get.  It’s the kind of thing you cannot script; the truth people deem stranger than fiction.   But believe it or not, that’s exactly what happened in mid July.

On July 16th and 17th, Amazon, after recognizing it had sold eBooks it didn’t have proper rights clearances to sell, attempted to fix the problem by dropping a heavy hand on the delete button.

Using previously undisclosed remote access technology the company systematically deleted the books from customer’s Kindles. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Though rebates were provided, the uproar and backlash was fast and loud.  And now the inevitable has happened: a lawsuit has been filed.

17 year old Michigan high school student Justin Gawronski filed papers Thursday seeking monetary and injunctive relief for the damage caused when the deleted files rendered linked notes on his Kindle obsolete. (court document follows below)

Reportedly, Gawronski’s primary interest is legal precedent.   He’s not in it for money but he wants more than to be able to tell a teacher, “the Kindle really did eat my homework.”

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Microsoft and Yahoo Bury the Hatchet: New Search Pact Reached

yahoo msft bing

Micro-hoo, the nickname for Microsoft’s effort to buy Yahoo outright,  was the deal that wasn’t.  At the end of a long and winding road, Microsoft-Yahoo Search is finally the deal that is.

Nearly a year and half removed from Microsoft’s initial buyout offer, a crashed ad market and a new CEO later, the two rivals have joined together in a complex pact aimed at wrestling a greater share of the search market away from Google.

Combining interests, at June levels (ComScore), the newly announced deal would give the joint effort a 28% share of the U.S. search market compared to Google’s industry leading 65%.  (Independently, Microsoft had 8% and Yahoo 20% in June).

The combination would still represent a minority stake but both companies believe the added scale will make a significant difference in their ability to compete. 

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Applevine: Rumored Apple Tablet in 2010?

applevine netbook rumorsSometimes when a company says they aren’t doing something,  they really aren’t.  But other times, brush-off’s hide another message.  Sometimes, lost in careful wording there’s a different truth.   As Shakespeare famously put it “the lady doth protest too much.”   When denials are over-emphasized something is going on.

Is Apple hiding something behind denials a netbook is in the product queue?  Some think so. 

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Yahoo Cost Cutting Carries Q2

The saying goes “there is more than one way to skin a cat.”  The same is true when it comes to managing corporate earnings.  Yahoo demonstrated that Tuesday.  Despite revenue plunging 13%,  the company managed to eke out positive  earnings growth near 8% thanks to aggressive cost cutting.

Overall, for the second quarter Yahoo reported net income of $141m, or 10 cents a share, up from $131m or 9 cents a share for the same period a year ago.  Revenue came in at $1.573b.  Revenue less traffic acquisition costs was $1.14b.

Analyst consensus expectations were for net income of 8 cents a share on revenue (less TAC) of $1.14b. Yahoo’s result was just good enough to beat it.

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Apple Cranks out Solid Q3

measure apple earnsThe economy continues to be a drag on earnings for many consumer technology companies but Apple isn’t one of them. After the close of markets Tuesday, the company reported 3rd quarter earnings of $1.24b, or $1.35 a share, up from $1.07b, or $1.19 a share for the same period a year ago.

For the quarter ended June 27th, Apple’s revenue grew 12% to $8.34b  and gross margins jumped to 36.3%. 

Where competitors have seen revenue and earnings falter, Apple surged.

Neither Apple’s prior guidance for earnings of   95 cents to $1 per share on revenue of $7.7b to $7.9b nor Wall Street’s more realistic consensus forecast of $1.17 per share on $8.2b in revenue proved close to the reality.

In the third quarter, concerns about an otherwise contracting PC market impacting sales were a non-issue as Mac sales more than held up.

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