Apple is celebrating a decade of iTunes, the digital music store that has seen more than 25 billion songs downloaded.
Since its launch on April 28, 2003, with 200,000 songs, iTunes has built a catalogue of more than 35 million songs and has around 435 million active account-holders across the world.
On average, more than 15,000 songs are downloaded every minute and according to the technology website Pocket-lint, it would take more than 140,000 years to listen to every single music download available.
Gennaro Castaldo, of HMV, said the music store – along with the iPod – had ‘undoubtedly’ played a major part in changing the way consumers discover and listen to music.
‘Between them, they’ve helped to reshape the music landscape – in the process creating a commercially viable model for digital technology in much the same way the gramophone did for recordings some 100 years ago,’ he said.
‘The challenge for Apple now is that digital consumers appear to be moving away from owned downloads to streaming, and there are now a growing number of competitors all looking to challenge their market dominance.’
The iTunes anniversary comes as Apple’s arch-rival Samsung rolls out its new Galaxy S4 smartphone as it bids to expand its presence in the high-end US market against the iPhone.
Cameron Farrelly, a music specialist at the advertising agency pd3, said iTunes had ‘given us unrestricted and portable access to music’s extensive back catalogue and taught the masses the art of a perfect playlist. iTunes have pioneered a listening revolution’.
Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, said the company took ‘great pride’ in exposing music fans to new and emerging artists.
He said: ‘We thought if consumers had a great, legal way to download music they would embrace it – did they ever.
‘Apple was floored, as were the labels, when customers bought over one million songs during the first week.’
Geoff Taylor, CEO of the UK’s music industry body BPI, said: ‘I think we can credit iTunes with the resurgence of the singles market, which was in the doldrums in the early 2000s but has now hit a record high.’
The iTunes store is now available in 119 countries around the world. Besides its vast collection of music tracks, it holds more than 190,000 episodes of television programmes and more than 45,000 films.
Mr Castaldo added: ‘Demand for physical product also remains surprisingly resilient and there’s even been a mini-resurgence for formats like vinyl as some fans look for a more authentic music experience.’