Apple’s iTunes store celebrates 10th birthday

ON 28 April 2003, Busted were on top of the UK charts, more than 2bn CDs were sold a year and Apple had just sold its 600,000th iPod.

It was also the day that Apple launched the iTunes store, one of the first legal avenues for downloading music, which celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday.

When the iTunes store launched, music downloads were predominantly illegal, with legitimate services proving either too expensive or not comprehensive enough to be popular, and record labels were wary of allowing the cash cow of CDs to be threatened. Steve Jobs, Apple’s late chief executive, saw the frustration that early iPod users had putting music on their iPods, and decided that Apple would come up with its own solution.

Ten years later, iTunes is the world’s biggest music seller, with more than 15,000 songs downloaded per minute, and has expanded into TV shows, apps and books. CD sales meanwhile, are a third of their peak at under 800,000.

Music now makes up more than $10bn (£6.5bn) of Apple’s annual revenues, making iTunes one of the world’s biggest media businesses. Digital sales account for 40 per cent of global music purchases, and have overtaken physical sales in the UK.

Earlier this year, Apple announced that iTunes had sold more than 25bn songs. However, a decade on, and despite its continuing growth, the store is facing new challenges from music streaming services such as Spotify, which offers unlimited music for a monthly fee. Apple is now believed to be working on its own music streaming service.