One million additional people have purchased content at iTunes this year, according to a new report from The NPD Group. Unfortunately for music companies, the percent of iTunes content buyers who purchased music has declined to 75 percent from 82 percent as more people use the iPad.
It doesn't have to be this way, says NPD. "There's no reason the music or video industry should accept a loss of buyers as device preferences change," said Russ Crupnick, senior vice president and entertainment analyst for The NPD Group. "They have significant opportunities to foster discovery, engagement, and purchases using the tablet platform."
As NPD's report points out, consumers who use only iPads are less likely than those using iPods or iPhones to buy music "primarily because of the attention being paid to apps and games." If the iPad does indeed offer opportunities to encourage purchases, it would appear those opportunities are being lost.
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The tablet is not the only portable device other than the iPod, however. According to an August survey by Nielsen, 43 percent of all smartphone users currently have Android devices. Further, 56 percent of people who plan to purchase a smartphone within the next three months plan to get an Android device. Apple's iTunes does not run on Android devices.
Regardless of who's buying or not buying, digital music sales have gained nicely in 2011. According to Nielsen SoundScan, the number of unique digital purchase transactions increased 6.9 percent -- from 276 million to 295.1 million -- through September 25. Not all purchases came from iTunes, but there has been no indication its market share has slipped this year.
NPD's "iTunes User Report 2011" also details how commonplace iTunes has become in Americans' everyday activities. The software is used by 51 million US Internet users, up 3% from last year, or roughly 25% of all US Internet users. Of those 51 million, 54 percent have downloaded or listened to music this year, 28 percent have downloaded a free app (up 4 percent from last year) and 16 percent have downloaded a paid app (also up 4 percent from last year).