Apple has now sold one billion music downloads on its iTunes Music Store, marking a significant milestone for both the company and the digital music industry.
The billion-mark was reached late Wednesday, after a rapid run-up from eager iTunes users. As part of a lottery-like giveaway, Apple awarded its billionth downloader with a 20-inch iMac, ten 60GB iPods, and a $10,000 iTunes Music Card. Along the way, Apple issued every 100,000th downloader with a black 4GB iPod nano, and a $100 gift card. “Music lovers like you in 21 countries around the globe have purchased one billion songs from the iTunes Music Store,” the company trumpeted on its website.
For Apple, the accomplishment is just one of several big numbers. iPods have already crossed the 40 million mark, generating record revenues and a commanding lead in the space. But not everyone is jumping up-and-down over the latest feat, including those within major record labels. A recent editorial blast from Victory Records head Tony Brummel reflects some of the frustration, which has been mounting amidst sagging CD sales and only modest digital revenue growth. Specifically, Apple has been targeted for using iTunes Music Store downloads as a loss-leader for iPod sales, while doggedly maintaining its 99-cent price point and an insular DRM protection scheme. Others wonder whether the paid download can ever offer a meaningful revenue stream, especially alongside ever-increasing P2P sharing volumes.