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iTunes celebrates a decade

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The iTunes music page on a computer screen. The iTunes music store changed how we consume music and access entertainment. Its apps are now available in 119 countries.photo: AP
The iTunes music page on a computer screen. The iTunes music store changed how we consume music and access entertainment. Its apps are now available in 119 countries.photo: AP

When Apple launched its iTunes music store a decade ago amid the ashes of Napster, the music industry reeling from the effects of online piracy was anxious to see how the new music service would shake out.

The iTunes music store became much more than a solution; it changed how we consume music and access entertainment. It’s not only music’s biggest retailer, it also dominates the digital video market, capturing 67 percent of the TV show sale market and 65 percent of the movie sale market, according to information company NPD group. Its apps are the most profitable, it has expanded to books and magazines, and it is now available in 119 countries.

But as iTunes celebrates its 10-year mark Sunday, it faces renewed scrutiny on how it will continue to dominate in the next decade or whether it can.

With competition from subscription services like Spotify and other services like Amazon.com, Netflix, Hulu and others, iTunes will likely need to reinvent itself to remain at the top of the digital entertainment perch.

At first only available to Mac users, iTunes debuted two years after Apple’s groundbreaking iPod.

With a catalog of 200,000 songs compared with tens and tens of millions of songs available today iTunes entered an industry being upended by illegal downloading yet still skeptical of the new music store.

There were more than grumbles when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs set parameters making all songs available at a cap of 99 cents (today, songs can cost up to $1.29) and giving listeners more control of what they could do with music collection in terms of portability and ownership.

“Our message to them was the only way to beat piracy wasn’t lawsuits or TV ads or anything, but to actually offer what was available through piracy and people would actually pay for it if you did that. So we had to get them to all agree. As part of that, you had to get them to agree to all of the same rights,” Apple Inc.’s Eddy Cue, who was integral to the creation of iTunes, said.

AP


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