Will Amazon Unseat Apple’s iTunes?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has long dominated in numerous fields — a sort of natural “consequence” of being a pioneer, if you will — but now that the company has hit a lull in its renowned innovation, other firms are moving up and leveling the playing field a bit.

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The latest example of this comes to us on behalf of Amazon.com.(NASDAQ:AMZN), which is taking huge strides in its music downloads, and is now giving iTunes a run for its money. Aided by Amazon’s Kindle tablet line, the online retailer managed to snag a fifth of the digital music market, an industry study reported on Tuesday. AmazonMP3 made up 22 percent of the music market in America for the fourth quarter, as competitive pricing and wider distribution helped lure in consumers.

Amazon’s music biz has been steadily growing since 2008, when it only had 7 percent of the market. In 2011, Amazon only had 15 percent, making the push to 22 within one year. “Amazon’s entry into tablets probably helped,” said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, which conducted the study…

The original Kindle Fire was released in 2011, but a larger model was launched last year to better compete with Apple’s iPad. And as impressive as Amazon’s growth has been, iTunes is still miles ahead, taking 63 percent of the digital market in the fourth quarter of 2012. Unlike Amazon though, iTunes has been trending down — in 2011, the program had a grip over 68 percent of the market, and 69 percent the year before that.

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Amazon also has the added perk of being able to sell physical CDs to consumers, and the company was able to easily convert those who previously bought physical music to its digital store.

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