iTunes Music Store tops 200 million downloads

Apple Computer Inc. on Thursday said that its online music store has topped 200 million downloads. The 200 millionth song was part of "The Complete U2," according to Apple. The company is also offering customers several ways to fill holiday shopping lists at its own retail outlets, as well as other well-known retailers throughout the United States.

With online music competition on the rise, Apple has continued to increase its market share and open new online stores around the world. Just recently, Apple launched the iTunes Music Store Canada and the EU store, adding nine new countries. Apple welcomes the competition and are confident that they still have the best combination to offer the public.

"The increase in competition is good because it has created an awareness in online music and in general we continue to get rave reviews," Eddy Cue, Apple Vice President of Applications, told MacCentral. "iPod sales have also helped us -- the combination of the two has worked out quite well."

While Cue would not break out iPod downloads or sales by region, he said that the online stores are doing well.

"We're very happy with our Canadian results so far," said Cue. "Our pace in general worldwide has continued to pick up."

Getting into the holiday spirit, Apple is offering a holiday genre page on the iTunes Music Store with thousands of holiday favorites. iTunes prepaid cards are also available from retailers like Amazon.com, Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Kroger, RadioShack, 7-Eleven, Target, as well as Apple's online store and Apple's retail stores and offer $15 or $25 of music on the iTunes Music Store.

Cue said that last year the company sold 100,000 gift certificates in the holiday season.

Gift givers can also send iTunes gift certificates in amounts from $10 to $200 by email or regular mail, and can print out these gift certificates in color right on their computer, according to Apple's Web site.

Apple is being aggressive in its expectations for iTunes Music Stores around the world for the coming year. The company sees a couple of avenues that will allow it to continue its growth and convert customers to purchasing music online.

"We expect those countries to continue to grow, along with the U.S.," said Cue. "We have very aggressive goals we are trying to meet as far as growth and we think there is still a huge opportunity with music. The majority of customers are continuing to buy CDs and we still think the piracy thing is rampant, which is a great opportunity to convert customers."

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