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iTunes Controversy
December 13, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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iTunes - the online source for iPod owners to legally download songs from the Apple music store. For just over 3 years, music lovers who are are somehow attached to this source of music have downloaded over 1.5 billion songs. The integrity of this source has recently come under attack from Forrester Research, who in a recent report suggests that iTunes sales are in decline by 65% in the first six months of 2006.

Without having to spend the $249.00 to read the Forrester Research study, it's easy enough to decipher the bottom line from the dozens of other news articles on the issue. And that bottom line is that iTunes sales are in decline since January of this year. For some inexplicable reason, this news has been a hot spot for controversy - despite the fact that many similar articles have suggested similar findings since late 2005.

Earlier reports have also suggested, as Forrester has, that iTunes sales have leveled off since its glory days of 2004-2005. During the summer months of this year, an article from Pali Capital published a study indicating that iTunes sales are much stronger in 2006, yet the weekly rate of growth is much weaker than 2005. In other words as time moves forward, the rate of weekly growth in 2006 is not as strong as it was in 2005.

Forrester Research seems to agree with this already established consensus. Yet for some reason, Forrester's research is drawing all the attention - and the controversy.

The controversy grew outside of common acceptance when Apple came out of its usual policy of silence and refuted the claim. According to Apple, Forrester's research was labeled as "simply incorrect." Additionally, Apple contended that sales were up 75% from 2005. This may be correct, but it fails to address the earlier contention of whether iTunes sales are keeping up with earlier growth rates.

From examining both sides of the issue, it would seem that both may actually be correct. Forrester is correct in finding that iTunes sales are not the ultimate source of music for iPod owners, while Apple is also correct in stating their sales are continuously strong. But the bottom line remains that iTunes has only sold 1.5 billion songs since its launch.

When compared to the size of the P2P community, the very controversy surrounding this latest finding appears to be silly at best. Even if iTunes sales increased by a substantial number - maybe 150% or more - their prominence would still not come anywhere near the domination that the resurgent file-sharing community under BitTorrent has enjoyed.

Just how dominant is P2P and file-sharing technology over all forms of online acquisition? Because of file-sharing's decentralized nature, placing exact numbers is no longer the easy task it once was. However, its become growingly apparent the BitTorrent and eDonkey2000 communities are the alpha-males or females of the Internet. Consuming a majority of Internet bandwidth, BitTorrent is a central issue of bandwidth control and is the focal point of all colloquial discussion on media acquisition online.

According to Big Champagne, a leading P2P research firm, the latest P2P population hovers at 9.5 million simultaneously connected individuals - which doesn't include the massive BitTorrent community. The total amount of files downloaded on iTunes in three years is likely covered by the collective trading of the file sharing community in the span of two weeks or less.

So while Apple, Forrester, and the mainstream media all banter back and forth, arguing whether iTunes is still a dominant force; the file-sharing community sits back and laughs as the real question is whether iTunes makes up one drop or two in the overall acquisition of online media.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Authorized Music Store :: iTunes

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