Timeline: iTunes Store at 10 billion

A look at the biggest moments in the history of the iTunes Store

On Wednesday Apple's iTunes Store served its 10 billionth music download, according to the company. Here's a look at notable moments in its history:


April 28, 2003 - Apple launched the iTunes Music Store in the U.S. The store debuted with iTunes version 4 and offered a revolutionary way for Macintosh users to buy music online with looser DRM (digital rights management) restrictions than competitors. "It's not stealing, which is good Karma," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, at a launch event in San Francisco.

Techworld: How to get free iTunes music

May 5, 2003 - After just a week in business the iTunes Music Store had already served 1 million [m] downloads. "In less than one week we've broken every record and become the largest online music company in the world," Jobs proclaimed of the service.

Sept. 8, 2003 - The downloads kept going. Two million by May 14, five million by June 23 and ten million by Sept. 8. "The iPod is a rocket," Greg Joswiak, vice president of hardware product marketing, told MacCentral.

Oct. 16, 2003 - iTunes expanded to the mass market with the introduction of a version for Windows. More than a million copies of the new version were downloaded in three and a half days.

Dec. 15, 2003 - Apple hit the 25 million download mark. The 50 million download mark was broken three months later on March 15, 2004.


June 15, 2004 - Apple began international expansion of the iTunes Music Store with the launch of service in the U.K., France and Germany. "We think this is the digital music store that Europe has been waiting for," said Steve Jobs. The service sold 800,000 songs in its first week in business.

July 12, 2004 - Downloads hit 100 million [m] songs and Steve Jobs took a moment to thank "our customers, the artists and the music labels who have embraced our dream for iTunes."

Dec. 16, 2004 - Apple ended 2004 with the download total moving past 200 million songs, after launching an E.U. version of the store.


July 18, 2005 - iTunes Music Store downloads topped half a billion songs.

Aug. 4, 2005 - Apple finally convinced Japanese music labels to sign up to the iTunes Music Store, and service began in Japan. "We're super excited about this," Jobs said in Tokyo. "We've been working on it for a long time." Fans appeared excited too and a million songs sold in four days.

Sept. 7, 2005 - Apple teamed up with Motorola and Cingular to launch the first mobile phone with iTunes. The ROKR was like "an iPod shuffle on your phone," said Jobs.

Oct. 12, 2005 - iTunes 6 added support for video and introduced music videos, Pixar short films and television programs to the store. A million videos were sold in the first 20 days of service. Among the first TV shows: "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," for US$1.99 per episode.


Feb. 23, 2006 - iTunes Music Store downloads topped one billion songs. "I hope that every customer, artist and music company executive takes a moment today to reflect on what we’ve achieved together during the past three years," said Jobs in a statement.


Jan. 9, 2007 - The counter passed 2 billion song downloads.

May 30, 2007 - With the backing of music label EMI, Apple launched DRM-free downloads under the name "iTunes Plus." EMI tracks were priced at $1.29, slightly higher than the average $0.99 for DRMed music. However by October the store offered over 2 million DRM-free songs for 99 cents. Jobs called EMI's move "the next big step forward in the digital music revolution."

July 31, 2007 - iTunes Store downloads topped three billion songs.


Jan. 9, 2008 - Apple moved to standardize iTunes prices across the European Union after the European Commission opened an antitrust investigation into the pricing. "The Commission is very much in favor of solutions which allow consumers to benefit from a truly Single Market for music downloads," Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said.

January 15 2008 - Apple launched iTunes Movie Rentals with tie-ups with major film studios. New releases cost US$4.99 and older movies cost $3.99.

April 3, 2008 - The iTunes Store surpassed Wal-Mart to become the number one music retailer in the U.S.

June 19, 2008 - Music downloads hit the 5 billion [b] mark.

Sep 8, 2008 - Apple introduced the iTunes 8 software and with it the Genius feature that proposed music based on user playlists. "Genius button is a great way to painlessly create playlists of related tracks," reported Macworld in a review.


March 19, 2009 - High-definition movies were added to the store. The higher-quality movies cost $1 more than standard definition titles.

Sep 9, 2009 - Apple added Home Sharing to iTunes 9, allowing songs, movies and TV shows to be copied or streamed between up to five authorized computers, so they didn't have to be purchased several times.


Feb. 24, 2010 - The 10 billionth song was downloaded from the iTunes Store.

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Martyn Williams

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