Flipkart, one of the biggest e-commerce websites of India, is shutting down its digital media store, Flyte. Launched almost a year ago on Feb, 2012, Flyte was the country’s first music store and a battle against music piracy. An ambitious battle it was perhaps.
For our unaware international readers, Flyte is our desi (Indian) version of iTunes music store, which provides songs at dirt cheap rates, starting at just ₹6 (11 cents) for songs and ₹25 (44 cents) for albums. The best part of all, the songs were available as DRM free copies — your music, do whatever you want with ‘em.
Flyte even boasted a music library of more than 2 million songs, both Indian and International songs, spanning several genres such as Bollywood, Spiritual, Carnatic, Pop and lots of Indian languages. It did its best to lure in customers by releasing excellent mobile applications for Android, iOS and Windows 8 as well as organizing a massive sale on its birthday, offering a plethora of titles for free.
“IF YOU MAKE IT REALLY EASY TO BUY MUSIC AT THE RICE PRICE POINTS, WE BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE WILL BE WILLING TO PAY” – FLIPKART’S CO FOUNDER, 2011
The company is yet to release a public statement, but our best guesses for the reason behind this move could be piracy and entry of other big players.
Talking about piracy, it’s tough for such a service to survive in a country where downloading pirated music from the internet has become a norm. And it’s a huge internet business out there with no less than a thousand websites offering users high quality songs on release day without paying a paisa. The situation has become so worse that various judicial systems have started asking network operators to place a ban on such websites.
However, it was poorly executed. For instance, Songs.PK, a hugely popular music piracy website based in Pakistan, was banned a few months ago, but only on domain level, which lead to the resurfacing of the website with a different domain name. Anyway, that’s a topic for a different day.
Furthermore, the recent entry of big players in this market including iTunes from Apple and online streaming services such as Saavn, Hungama and Dhingana could have contributed to the competition as well.
In an interview given to Medianama, Flipkart’s COO and co-founder Binny Bansal said that people could be made willing to pay for music if was available at the rice price points. But the plan has now failed, depicting the sad state of India’s music industry.
Flipkart will stop accepting new purchases in Flyte from 17th of the next month and will completely stop the service on 18th August.