This is a landmark for the music industry. For many years, the traditional music industry (with their physical media) has bemoaned the presence of digital music downloads. Initially, the presence of ripped off MP's (illegal MP3's) were blamed for the decline in sales of the traditional music media. The industry fought these networks with full fury, and managed to kill most of the organized rippers (although they are facing more challenges fighting the more dispersed Bittorrent networks). In the midst of this fight, Apple initiated the combination of the Ipod and iTunes (store combination) in 2003 and managed to slowly increase its market share. The traditional delivery industry slowly accepted digital availability of songs due to the legal restrictions and use of technology to prevent copying that were bundled along with these songs; and the combination of iTunes and iPod became such a huge success that it has beaten all the other retailers (even a behemoth such as Walmart):
Apple Inc. has surpassed Wal-Mart to become America’s No. 1 music store, the first time that a seller of digital downloads has ever beaten the big CD retailers. Apple sold more albums in January and February than any other U.S. retailer, market research firm NPD Group said Thursday, underscoring how the music industry is on the front edge of a digital media shift that is upending businesses as diverse as bookstores and video game makers.
U.S. consumers still buy more CDs than digital downloads, but the gulf is narrowing rapidly. Only five years after launching its iTunes digital store, Apple has dominated the fast-growing download market so completely that it jumped ahead of individual CD sellers such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target. “It’s a major milestone,” said Tom Adams, president of consulting firm Adams Media Research. “It is the first instance of an electronic venue surpassing a [bricks-and-mortar] retail venue for any kind of media delivery.”
And this is not the only field; traditional newspapers are feeling the heat from online versions; even iTunes itself is slowly making its name for itself in the field of movie downloads.