The dominance of Apple's iTunes store in the music downloads market could suffer a blow after the launch of a new price comparison site from TV consumer champion Martin Lewis.
The money saving pundit's latest venture shows music fans where they can get the cheapest downloads from a number of music sites and allows them to click through to buy those songs. The iTunes store, the market leader in online music sales, is crowded out by cheaper rivals such as Tesco and we7 and fails to appear as offering the lowest price on any one of the current top 40 albums. Susan Boyle's best-selling album, for example, is shown as available for £3.97 via Tesco and £7.99 on iTunes and HMV.
Lewis said such price differences, and the fact no single seller always comes out cheapest every time, motivated him to create Tunechecker.com, which follows a handful of other price comparison sites into the music market.
"We are all about saving people money. I don't necessarily want to erode iTunes's market dominance but the easiest thing is for it to bring its prices down. If iTunes doesn't respond to the competitiveness of the market then I think this could have an effect on them," said Lewis.
"But their marketing is very powerful and it is going to be difficult."
The price comparison site, which gets an affiliate payment when users click through and download tracks, also runs a chart of the biggest price gaps. Again, iTunes is highlighted as one of the most expensive online destinations. The Essential Bob Dylan is listed as £4.99 on tunetribe.com and for £20 more on iTunes.
Lewis said one of the starkest findings in his market research was a lack of knowledge among iPod and iPhone users about what services they can use to get music on to their devices about half believed they could only use iTunes.
"It's that big an issue. It's not iTunes's dominance. It's the perception that you have no choice," he said.
Tunechecker carries a special message for them: "iPod/iPhone users don't have to use iTunes to buy music, you can still compare and download music from other providers to your iPod/iPhone."
Ben Drury, co-founder of UK digital music company 7digital, said iTunes's market share was already showing signs of waning, though no official figures are available.
"We have seen our sales go up faster than the market. With people like Tesco, HMV and Play in the market, the monopoly that iTunes has enjoyed may not last that much longer," he said.
info from http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/dec/07/music-price-comparison-challenge-itunes