iTunes breaks through 3 billion song barrier

Written by Tim Smalley

August 1, 2007 | 13:46

Tags: #3 #billion #download #downloads #drm #itunes #piracy #purchase #song

Companies: #apple #riaa #three

Apple announced yesterday that its iTunes music store has now sold more than three billion songs since its launch four years ago.

The pace at which Apple’s iTunes sales have grown is quite immense – it took from April 2003 until February 2006 – almost three years – for the service to sell its first one billion songs, while the second billion took only one year. The third billion has taken Apple just six months to achieve and I’d be willing to put money on the fourth billion taking even less time still.

Apple’s Eddie Cue, vice president of iTunes, offered his thanks to all those that have contributed to the milestone.

There are clearly a lot of people buying music legally and Apple’s iTunes sales are no doubt impressive, but there is always a darker side to the bright picture painted by Apple here. Unfortunately, the despite Apple’s massive sales figures and growth, illegal music downloading has reached record levels in the UK and many would argue that’s simply because the recording industry is falling behind the times.

Last week we reported that the RIAA believes that its crusade against music pirates is somewhat pointless and the latest figures seem to prove that’s the case. However, the RIAA is adamant that its legal war is a necessary part of the bigger picture, while others believe that it’s because the recording industry is out of touch with its customers.

Apple’s Steve Jobs has talked about removing the DRM restrictions, but only EMI has stepped up and delivered DRM-free music... at a premium. I don’t think that the removal of DRM is the whole answer though, especially not with the price premiums associated with it. I think it’s a combination of DRM-free music and price elasticity – if the prices are low enough, unauthorised downloading will be massively reduced and, without DRM, law-abiding customers aren’t punished with the headaches and limitations associated with DRM infected content.

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