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Apple iTunes Penetration Closing Gap with Microsoft - April 2011 Bandwidth Report

Summary: Apple is closing the gap with Microsoft in streaming media player share. By sometime late 2011 or 2012 Apple should pass Microsoft in streaming media player users.

Since our last streaming media player survey, Apple iTunes continues to gain market share. While iTunes usage continue to increase, all of the other streaming media players saw drops in users since our last survey.

Streaming Media Player Usage

From August 2010 to March 2011, Apple iTunes Player usage grew 3.2% from 43,257,000 users to 44,650,000 users. Meanwhile Microsoft Media Player users dropped 2.4% from 70,025,000 users to 68,324,000 users (see Table 1). QuickTime and RealPlayer also saw declines over the same time period. Combining iTunes and Quicktime users Apple streaming media users dropped 0.6% from Augusut 2010 to March 2011 from 59,414,000 users to 59,054,000 users. This decline is smaller than the 2.4% decline in Windows Media players, so the gap is closing.

Table 1: Streaming Media Player Growth in Unique Users (thousands)
Month iTunes Apple QuickTime iTunes+QuickTime RealPlayer Windows Media Player
Aug-10 43,257 16,15759,414 10,609 70,025
Mar-11 44,650 14,40459,054 8,823 68,324

Apple Closing Gap With Microsoft Streaming Media Player

Looking at a graphical view of the data from November 2002 to March 2011 we see that Microsoft Windows Media Player users peaked around November 2008, and have steadily declined since then. iTunes usage continues to grow, showing the only growth among the four streaming media players surveyed (see Figure 1).

Streaming Media Player Penetration Trends November 2003 to March 2011

Figure 1: Streaming Media Player Trends Nov. 2003 to March 2011
Source: Nielsen

Conclusion

Our prediction that Apple would pass Microsoft in streaming media player usage was a bit premature. Looking at Figure 1 you'd think at current growth rates Apple would pass Microsoft around July 2011. I'd say that is overly optimistic as well, because Quicktime appears to be losing market share. It may be until late 2011 or even 2012 by the time Apple amasses enough users to pass Microsoft in streaming media users.

Further Reading

Apple Bites into Microsoft's Streaming Media Lead
Who will get the biggest piece of the streaming media pie? By sometime next year it could very well be Apple. From the March 2010 Bandwidth Report.
Apple to Pass Microsoft in Streaming Media Players by Early 2011
Apple is poised to pass Microsoft in the streaming media player market. Combining iTunes and QuickTime Apple narrowed the gap with Microsoft to 7.6 percentage points in August 2010. At current growth rates, Apple should pass Microsoft in streaming media player usage by early 2011. From the September 2010 Bandwidth Report.
Multimedia Broadband Archive
Tracks the growth in the use of multimedia for the Bandwidth Report.

By website optimization on 27 Apr 2011 PM

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