Wal-Mart’s DRM-free MP3 Music Not Likely To Hurt Apple or Amazon.com (WMT, AAPL, AMZN, RNWK)

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Earlier this morning, Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) announced the launch of its own "DRM-free" MP3 music downloads.  Those wanting the service can download from Walmart.com at $0.94/song and $9.22/album.  The new MP3 digital format allows the ability for customers to play music on nearly any device, including iPod®, iPhone® and Zune(TM).

Wal-Mart is one of the first major retailers to offer MP3 digital tracks with music content from major record labels such as Universal and EMI Music, and the launch is aimed to get into the space of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Amazon.com (NASSDAQ:AMZN).  Wal-Mart’s new MP3 music catalog includes hundreds of thousands of songs and albums, and will be continually expanded with additional mainstream and independent music content. Also, Wal-Mart is currently offering special MP3 album pricing on hundreds of album classics.

It used to be that once Wal-Mart went after your space that things became instantly worse for you and your other competitors.  But after the Wal-Mart woes of late, they just don’t seem able to wrangle away customers at the same rate.  In fact, many may now chuckle at new initiatives because its online presence is still too small to be a major factor.

Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos probably didn’t call each other up in a panic this morning, and probably won’t be tomorrow either.  These stocks are even higher on the heels of RealNetworks (NASDAQ:RNWK) launch of a new digital music company with MTV.  We addressed this earlier today.  If these were as threatening as they sound then Amazon.com (AMZN) shares might not be up 3.8% and Apple (AAPL) shares might not be up 4% today.  Getting the huge established tech predators unseated from a dinner table at their favorite restaurants usually takes more than getting a two-top table in the corner.

Jon C. Ogg
August 21, 2007

Jon Ogg can be reached at jonogg@247wallst.com; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.