Competing with Apple’s iTunes music store — the world’s number one music store — was always going to be a difficult task for Walmart, and after eight years of trying the company has finally decided to throw in the towel and close its digital music store at the end of this month.

Walmart launched in 2003 as an attempt to rival Apple’s successful digital music store. One thing that gave Walmart’s store an advantage was its prices: thanks to its significant presence in the retail space, it was able to sell tracks for less than Apple could. Tracks for sale through Apple’s iTunes for $0.99 could be purchased from Walmart for just $0.88. And those labelled at $1.49 in iTunes were available from Walmart for just $1.24.

That’s quite a big difference if you purchase a lot of music, however, it seems prettier prices aren’t the only thing required to compete with the Cupertino giant. It’s also about user experience and integration. Apple’s system — although it may have its flaws here and there — works incredibly well with the company’s hugely popular devices, and makes syncing your music library easier than ever before, even for novices. You purchase your tracks, plug in your iPod, iPhone or iPad and hit sync — and that’s it. And with the introduction of the iCloud service this year, that experience will become even more seamless.

It’s no surprise, then, that competitors are struggling to keep up. Walmart is the first big name to say goodbye to the digital music business, issuing a letter to the music industry website Digital Music News which reads:

After eight years in business, the Walmart Music Downloads Store located at will close on August 28, 2011. All content in the Store will be disabled and no longer available for download from the store. The sale of physical record music products on as well as in Walmart U.S. retail store will remain unaffected. Walmart Soundcheck ( will remain operational as a live streaming site without any download options.

Walmart’s digital music store seemed destined for doom last year when its share of the digital music industry had fallen to less than 1%, behind Amazon, Napster and Rhapsody. Meanwhile, Apple’s iTunes attracts a whopping 66% of the market.

Will you be sad to see Walmart close the door on digital music downloads?

[via The Atlantic]