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Apple's online music store tops 70 mln songs sold

In its first year, Apple Computer Inc.’s online music store has sold more than 70 million songs and the computer maker is offering a free song to customers for the next eight days to mark the store’s anniversary, the company said Wednesday.

Apple, maker of the Macintosh computer and the wildly popular iPod digital music players, also upgraded its iTunes digital jukebox software with new features such as “iMix,” which lets customers publish their playlists on the iTunes online music store which other customers can then purchase.

“We’re very, very excited about the results from the first year,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, chairman and chief executive, said on a conference call with reporters, adding that the Cupertino, California-based company has sold more than 3 million iPods since it introduced them in October 2001.

Apple had initially set a goal of selling 100 million songs in its first year of operating the store, but Jobs said the company was not at all disappointed with 70 million songs.

“If a year ago anyone had predicted iTunes would have sold 70 million songs, they would have been laughed out of town,” Jobs said. Apple now sells about 2.7 million songs per week.

Jobs also said that the company has no current plans to start offering a subscription-based online music service, which many of its rivals now do.

“Subscription services are not succeeding,” Jobs said, adding that the iTunes music store had a “small profit” in its most recent quarter. “When you subscribe to music you don’t get a chance to put it on your portable player and take it with you.”

Jobs said that Apple’s online music store now has more than 700,000 tracks available for purchase, an increase from 200,000 when it launched the service a year ago. Tracks cost 99 cents each and approximately 40 percent of the music sold are in the form of albums, rather than individual tracks.

Apple has led the online music industry in the legal purchase and downloading of music, scoring agreements with all five major record labels with the launch of iTunes.

The iPod has nearly 50 percent of the market for all MP3 players, Jobs said, including $50 players that use Flash memory to store media.

Apple’s iPods cost $249 to $499 and can store 1,000 to 10,000 songs and use hard disk drives for storage.

In addition to iMix, new features on the iTunes jukebox software include “Party Shuffle,” which automatically chooses songs from a user’s music library, displays just-played and upcoming songs, and lets users add, delete and rearrange upcoming songs on the fly, Appel said.

The updated software also allows for automatic conversion of songs in Microsoft Corp.’s (nasdaq: MSFT – news – people) WMA, or Windows Media Audio, format to AAC, the format Apple uses for the iPod and its online music store.

iTunes 4.5, which is available immediately on Apple’s Website for both the Mac and Windows computers, also offers radio charts from more than 1,000 radio stations, allowing users to find and buy songs played on local radio stations.

In response to customer requests, Jobs said that the software can now create and print CD jewel case inserts for albums or compilation discs, combining album art and track lists using professionally designed templates.

Apple also raised the number of computers on which users can store songs bought from the online music store, to five from three.

In response to requests from the record labels, Jobs said that Apple is reducing the number of times a user to create a CD with the same playlist, to seven from 10.

Consumers can still burn a single song onto a CD an unlimited number of times and listen to music on an unlimited number of iPods.

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