Research firm The NPD Group on Tuesday said that "iTunes is proving to be a formidable competitor against free peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services." Citing March 2005 statistics from its own MusicWatch Digital service, NPD noted that the iTunes Music Store was the most popular online retailer and tied with LimeWire for second. 1.7 million households used the iTMS and LimeWire while WinMX was in first place with 2.1 million households used to download music through it.
Russ Crupnick, president of The NPD Groupis Music and Movies division, said in a statement: "One of the music industryis questions has been when will paid download stores compete head-to-head with free P2P download services. That question has now been answered. iTunes is more popular than nearly any P2P service, and two other paid digital music offerings have also gained a level of critical mass. These digital download stores appear to have created a compelling and economically viable alternative to illegal file sharing."
Kazaa, BearShare and Ares Galaxy took the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively, while Napster showed up seventh. Morpheus was eighth, the RealPlayer Store was ninth, and iMesh nabbed the final spot. Household numbers were not available for any of those services, but The NPD Group said that, overall, four percent of U.S. households with Internet access bought music online in March, with an average age and income of 33 and US$83,000.
"Though younger demographics are more likely than others to share files on P2P services," The NPD Group said, "NPDis research shows that older consumers are more likely to be deterred by the recording industryis anti-piracy litigation efforts."