Citing NPD data and internal Apple sources, Ars Technica declared iTunes the #1 music retailer in January, besting Wal-Mart for the first time, along with Best Buy, Amazon and others. Debunkers have claimed that this is only because of gift-card redemption but Ars' Eric Bangeman updated his piece, calling BS on the BS callers:

I explicitly noted that the results may be somewhat inflated by gift cards, and I noted that other retailers on the list have gift cards, too‚ÄĒdon't forget that fact. And a sale is a sale...This is a monumental event for Apple, because while the company may not be guaranteed the top spot for eternity‚ÄĒor even the following month‚ÄĒit is something many thought would never happened.

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On the other hand, maybe it just proves that iTunes gift cards are way better stocking stuffers than Wal-Mart gift cards. We've asked Apple for some clarity‚ÄĒhopefully we'll get it. [Ars Technica]