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American download price monitor concludes Amazon cheaper 84% of the time, yet iTunes still dominates

By | Published on Monday 14 October 2013

Amazon MP3

It’s no secret that the Amazon MP3 service routinely sells digital music cheaper than its rivals, and especially market leader Apple iTunes. And a survey by American online deals monitor DealNews has confirmed that fact, concluding that Amazon’s digital music platform in the US is cheaper than its bigger rival up to 84% of the time.

Earlier this year, DealNews monitored the pricing of download singles and albums on Amazon MP3, iTunes and Google Play over a four week period, tracking songs and albums in the main Billboard charts and the CMJ Albums Top 20.

According to that research, originally published back in July but given wider exposure thanks to a feature on TechSpot last week, digital music on Amazon was cheaper 77.5% of the time, while if you honed in on more mainstream releases money could be saved 84% of the time. Google Play was also generally cheaper than iTunes, though not to such an extent. The savings were also more significant on albums than singles.

Of course what remains most interesting about all of this is that, while Amazon MP3 has always been more competitively priced than iTunes, and Google has also competed on price since launching the Play download store, the Apple digital music platform still commands an impressive market leader status in the digital music domain, certainly in the US, and in many other territories too.

And while the arrival of newer entrants to the digital market, and the growth of subscription and streaming services, is slowly eroding Apple’s dominance in the digital music space, according to data the NPD Group earlier this year 80% of US downloaders are still primarily using the iTunes download store to access digital music, giving the tech giant a 63% market share in the wider digital music domain.

Playing a little with its figures, DealNews notes: “According to Nielsen SoundScan, US shoppers bought 111.7 million digital albums in 2012; if 63% were sold through iTunes, as the NPD Group report suggests, that’s 70.3 million albums sold by Apple. However, if albums bought through Amazon are on average $1 cheaper, then in theory, Americans paid a cumulative $70.3 million more than they needed to on digital music. While purely speculative, it’s a staggering thought”.

Although Apple’s digital music market share is slowing slipping – in some markets faster than others – it’s continued success despite refusing to enter the download price war demonstrates that many music consumers put convenience and familiarity before price.