The latest series of digital music reports are in, and they suggest Apple could account for 28 per cent or more of global music sales by 2012; that’s fairly impressive for the iTunes Store service which only launched on April 28, 2003.

The understanding that Tunes may one day account for a quarter of global music sales comes through the extrapolation of data from a series of recent reports. These reports suggest digital sales will soon stem the continued meltdown in music retail.

In-Stat research claims digital music sales will account for 40 per cent of music sales by 2012. With iTunes accounting for in the region of 70 per cent of digital music sales in most of the 22 markets Apple offers the service in, it’s clear that (should iTunes retain such marketshare) it will account for around a quarter of the world’s music retail market by 2012. (70 per cent of 40 per cent is 28 per cent).

The iTunes Store became the largest music retailer in the US based on the amount of music sold during January and February 2008.

Apple faces ever increasing competition in the sector, not least the desire of major labels to encourage more persity in distribution. 

JupiterResearch believes labels need to encourage ad-supported downloads, subscription services and DRM-free downloads in order to drive digital music revenues.

The iPhone and iPod touch are regarded as the vanguard of an Apple attempt to transform the iPod into a more sophisticated wireless device. Apple already offers the iTunes WiFi Store for these devices, but with a 3G iPhone waiting in the wings, might Apple plan a mobile iTunes service?

To retain iTunes marketshare, Apple continues in its effort to encourage DRM-free music sales through iTunes Plus, while recent market chatter has speculated the company is in discussion to launch a music subscription service.

In the absence of compelling competition, the music retail market is Apple’s to lose. Services such as those from Amazon and eMusic threaten to break the iTunes hegemony, but whatever the outcome of the battle between incumbents in the space, Apple seems set to maintain a commanding presence in music retail for some time to come.



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