Over a year ago, “Downhill Battle”:http://www.downhillbattle.org/ did a little math on some numbers from some Apple press releases and came to the conclusion that there have been an average of 21 songs sold on the iTunes Music Store for every iPod sold. It’s a striking statistic that’s been getting a lot of attention after “Boing Boing linked to it”:http://www.boingboing.net/2005/06/14/21_itunes_sold_per_i.html yesterday.
What’s getting lost in the retelling is that the data is over a year old. Boing Boing includes the full dateline on the quote in their post, but “other people”:http://www.realtechnews.com/posts/1442 aren’t being careful about including the year, making it look like the data is recent. I have to wonder if they are even aware that this news isn’t really news.
Other’s picked up on things and note that the current numbers (now that more than 16M iPods have been sold) are more like “31 songs per iPod”:http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/online/archives/2005/06/15/where_does_the_music_come_from.html.
I think it’s also important to keep in mind that 13M of those iPod’s are less than a year old and so the owners haven’t had that much time to accumulate songs from iTMS. Broad averages don’t necessarily tell you much about a dynamic and varied population.
That said, I’ve had my iPod about 18 months, and I have 47 songs i”ve purchased from iTMS. In that time, i’ve probably purchased 2-4x more tracks on CD. There are a couple reasons for this. First off, i’m not entirely satisfied with 128kbps AAC tracks. Lately I’ve been ripping at 160kbps. Secondly, the discount for buying via iTunes isn’t quite enough to make me feel good about being stuck with a compressed copy of the song and, on a related note, I don’t feel the loss in flexibility that comes with DRM is compensated by the discounted iTMS rate in many cases. Basically, if I just want one or two tracks off an album, I’ll buy off iTMS, but if I think I want most of the album, I put up with the added expense and hassle of buying a CD from a local store or online retailer.