November 22, 2005: Two and a half years after the virtual door opened, the iTunes Music Store enters the list of the 10 best music sellers in the United States.
While iTunes sales numbers can’t yet compare to the sales power of established retail giants like Walmart, Best Buy and Circuit City (or another tech company Amazon), this milestone is still big news for Apple – and digital music sales in whole.
A rising apple
The data came from the data analysis firm NPD Group. It reports that in the third quarter of 2005, Apple broke through the list of leading U.S. music retailers. Although the report did not give accurate figures, it confirmed that Apple’s iTunes model was largely.
The list looked like this, with a comparative position for 2004 in parentheses:
1. Walmart (1)
2. Best shopping (2)
3. Meta (3)
4. Amazon (4)
5. FYE (10)
6. Circuit City (tied 5)
7. iTunes (14)
8. Tower Records (tied for 7)
9. Sam Goody (tied 5)
10. Borders (9)
The news of iTunes sales numbers served as a significant reminder of how quickly Apple gained a name in the field.
ITunes sales: on the rise
The iTunes Music Store debuted just a few years earlier, on April 28, 2003. At the time, digital music was synonymous with music theft – thanks to pirated services like Napster that helped make illegal downloads a big deal. The fact that iTunes downloads were now just as profitable as some of the giants selling music the old-fashioned way came as a great relief to the music industry.
Still, the news was not a complete surprise. Almost from day one it was clear that iTunes was going to be big. By December 15, 2003, Apple had celebrated its 25 million downloads. By the following July, Apple had sold its 100 millionth song. And iTunes has continued to sell millions of music videos and even distribute feature films.
iTunes is rising on the music charts
Perhaps more than other industries, the music business loves charts. Seeing iTunes sales fail among the top 10 provided positive evidence that Apple was the winner. In fact, iTunes proved unstoppable during the first decade of the 21st century.
Apple has sold songs in the billions. And by February 2010, Cupertino had become the largest single music retailer in the world. Meanwhile, some established giants (such as Borders Group, ninth on the list) have run into problems.
However, as streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify have suppressed digital sales in recent years, iTunes days have become numbered. Apple finally discontinued iTunes in 2019. With the release of macOS Catalina, Cupertino split iTunes into three dedicated apps: Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts.
Remember your first iTunes download? Let us know in the comments below.
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