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Apple's iTunes 'owns' UK digital music market

Higher share than its competitors combined

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Apple's iTunes Music Store has a larger share of the UK digital music download market than the rest of its competitors put together, recently published figures from London-based researcher Xtn Data reveal.

Xtn's research, based on a late September survey of more than 1,000 British consumers who buy music online and offline, puts ITMS' UK market share at 54 per cent. Its nearest rival, Napster, has just ten per cent of the market. British company Wippit, one of the longest running providers of legal music downloads in the UK, comes in at number three, with an eight per cent market share.

Rounding out the top five are MyCokeMusic, with a six per cent share, and MSN, on five per cent. The Microsoft operation is just ahead of CD Wow, which has four per cent of the users who buy music downloads in the UK, according to Xtn's survey.

Virigin Digital and HMV have thus far failed to make much of a mark on the market. The two music retail giants, who in September both revived their lacklustre download services with bright, new versions, have three per cent and one per cent of the UK market, respectively.

The two other High Street retailers operating in the space, Tesco and Woolworths, both of whom entered the UK download market in the autumn of 2004, have only managed to take two per cent of the market each since then.

All the other players together account for 11 per cent of the market, Xtn's numbers show.

Still, the legal services are not getting it entirely right. Of the consumers Xtn surveyed, 58 per cent criticised the legitimate download shops for their high prices, while 41 per cent said they were difficult to use and 43 per cent of respondents said they don't offer the music they are interested in.

Users who were disappointed with legitimate music download services were more likely to illegally download music, Xtn said. Despite high-profile anti-piracy campaigns launched by the music industry, two-thirds of respondents who use P2P networks to download music said they were not worried by the legal action taken against file-sharers.

And why not, when the lawsuits tackle uploaders, not downloaders?

Since the survey was performed, a number of P2P companies have closed their networks down while they reach accords with the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) and equip their software with code to ensure any file-trading that takes place is legal. There may no longer be 52m people in the US using P2P, as Xtn suggests, but equally quite a few P2P networks are up and running outside the US, suggesting the RIAA's victory is a local phenomenon. ®

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