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Apple iTunes sells 200m songs

Sales growth continuing to rise

Apple's iTunes Music Store has notched up more than 200m paid-for song downloads, the company said today.

The last total Apple made public came in mid-October. Then, ITMS customers around the world had bought 150m songs, at an average rate of 4m songs a week. Today's figure raises that rate to 4.76m a week.

In October, Apple forecast it would sell more than 200m songs by the end of the year, so it has clearly met and exceeded that target. And with just over two weeks to go, there's plenty of time for iPod owners - particularly all those who are going to find one under the Chrimble Tree on 25 December - to download around 10m more.

What Apple doesn't say is how many users ITMS has, since that's a better measure of the store's broader success than simply the number of songs sold. From a revenue perspective, it's all about sales - ie. the total number of downloads - but if the store is to survive beyond the honeymoon period it needs to establish a solid user base.

Analysts expect Apple to sell over 4m iPods this quarter, and it sold at least 5.76m since the device's launch to the end of September 2004. Call that 9m iPods to date. That's an average download level of 22 songs - roughly two albums' worth - per iPod owner. And since many of them won't have bought songs from Apple, that suggests a pretty healthy purchasing rate on behalf of those who have. Don't forget too the folk who buy from ITMS buy don't own an iPod.

Indulging in a little statistical speculation, we reckon ITMS should hit 500m songs next June, assuming its growth continues at that rate it has through the past 12 months, showing the almost exponential growth it's shown so far. At this rate, the billion-songs mark will be reached in November/December 2005. This is all very unscientific, of course, but it does indicate a positive uptake going forward, and it will be interesting to see how well Apple can maintain its momentum. ®

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