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iTunes Turns 10

April 28, 2013

By Paul Thomson :: 2:31 PM

iTunes marks 10th birthdayApple’s music purchase and download service iTunes celebrates its tenth birthday today.

Hard to believe that an online service that is now so ubiquitous has really not been around all that long, in the grand scheme of the digital era.

When iTunes launched, the online music world was, to put it lightly, a bit of a mess. The space was fraught with illegal download sites, peer-to-peer file sharing networks, and had no easy way for users to quickly, easily, cheaply, and legally download song tracks.

Enter Apple and their portable music listening devices, iPods. Apple wanted there to be a way for iPod users to get songs onto their new gadgets with as little fuss as possible – the iTunes store was born.

iTunes launched on April 28, 2003, and five years later, in April of 2008, the service was America’s top retailer of music.  The iTunes catalog today contains 26 million songs, but launched with only 200,000.

At launch time, all tracks cost 99 cents. It wasn’t until In 2009, that the three-tier pricing structure was introduced to iTunes, with songs selling for 69 cents, 99 cents, or $1.29.

Apple now sells many digital titles out of its stores – podcasts were added in 2005, movies in 2006, and the Apple App Store launched in 2008, along with iTunes U. All of these retail systems are built on top of the original iTunes model from ten years ago.

When iTunes hit the marketplace, it brought ease of use and inexpensive songs to users – and many who felt there were no other good alternatives flocked to Apple’s creation. Now, with the advent of music streaming sites like Pandora and Spotify, and their growing popularity with a new generation of digital consumers, it remains to be seen how Apple’s model will hold up going forward.

Still, such success and growth across ten years in a highly competitive, fast changing digital space is nothing to take lightly. So, happy birthday iTunes, and congratulations, Apple.