NEW DELHI: Flipkart, one of the largest e-commerce websites in India announced that it would shut down Flyte, its digital music store. The store, which primarily competes against Apple iTunes Store, has failed to find enough takers.
“We have realized the music downloads business in India will not reach scale unless several problem areas such as music piracy and easy micro-payments etc are solved in great depth,” said Mekin Maheshwari, head of digital media and payments at Flipkart. “We feel that at present, it makes sense to take a step back from Flyte and revisit the digital music market opportunity at a later stage.”
Flipkart will, however, continue to sell eBooks. “eBooks continue to be a part of our business. They have great strategic value for us,” said a senior Flipkart executive. The executive added that users would not be able to use Wallet, a service that allowed Flipkart customers to put money in a digital locker and use that to purchase songs or ebooks. Instead, they will have to use other payment methods like credit or debit card.
Flyte was launched in February last year. On Wednesday, Maheshwari said the service had over one lakh regular users. Earlier, the e-commerce website sent an email to Flyte customers, notifying them that the service would be shut down on June 17, 2013. “The Flyte MP3 store will no longer be operational after June 17, 2013. We request you to use your Flyte Wallet balance, if any, by that date. But if for some reason you are unable to do this then not to worry. We will refund the unused Flyte wallet balance to you,” the company noted in the email.
The company added, “All the MP3 files that you have purchased from Flyte on or before June 17, 2013 will continue to be available for download in your digital library till August 18, 2013. So do remember to download all your music by then.”
When launched, Flyte was a unique service for India, which at that time did not have iTunes Store. It offered to sell a digital song for a price between Rs 6 to Rs 15. The songs were sold without any digital rights management, a technology that controls their use on behalf of copyright owners. Customers were free to play the songs downloaded from Flyte in any computer, smartphone or music player.
Initially, Flipkart set a limit on how many times a user could download the song from its servers. It said that after purchase the song could be downloaded only 5 times. However, After Apple’s iTunes Store started operating in India in late 2012, Flipkart removed this limit.
Unfortunately for Flipkart, removing the download restrictions was not enough. In India, not only music piracy remains a challenge but iTunes Store has a better acceptability among the consumers who are most likely to spend money on digital content.
A service like Flyte also faces challenge from companies like Nokia and Sony that allow people who buy their smartphones to download millions of songs for free or at very nominal cost. Though these songs can be played only on specific devices.
Source: Times of India