Apple’s growing slice of the music business – in pie charts

Updated: Aug 18, 2009 6:50 PM UTC

The NPD Group on Tuesday issued what at first appears to be a pair of contradictory facts:

  • Apple (aapl) now controls the largest share of the music business, its iTunes Store accounting for 25% of unit sales in the first half of 2009, up from 14% in 2007.
  • Compact discs are still the most popular format for paid music, accounting for 65% of unit sales.

How can this be? The trick is that Apple controls the lion's share -- 69% -- of paid downloads, whereas CD sales are spread out among many players, chief among them Wal-Mart (wmt), Best Buy (bby), Amazon (amzn) and Target (tgt).

To see better how this works, let's put the data into pie charts: <!-- more -->

Not covered in the NPD report, of course, is music piracy, which according to a recent U.K. report accounts for roughly 18% of music downloads -- which would put it ahead of Amazon but well behind iTunes.