So Apple has now become the number one music retailer in the United States, finally surpassing Wal-Mart. It passed Best Buy a month or two ago when it captured the number two spot, and that phenomenal growth has given Apple a truly astounding 50 million customers. Apple says that through iTunes they have sold over four billion songs out of their catalog of more than six million. Who imagined five years ago, when Apple first released the iTunes Music Store, that the company would be in such a position today? The Wikipedia says that the iTMS launched with about 200,000 songs, but provides no source reference. I suppose that number is as good as any other, but I did find an article in Wired from that time that referenced that 200,000 number (http://
The Benefits of Hindsight
It is rather fun to go back and look at comments from pundits at the time the iTunes Music Store first launched, and the Wired article has a few: Iann Robinson, an MTV "news correspondent" at the time (I think that means he was a "VJ" or "video jockey") said "he was looking forward to seeing a lot more independent artists available at the iTunes Music Store." Wired quotes him saying "When independent music is on there -- boom -- it will really open up." Rather amusing, with the benefit of 20/
Another person quoted was Colin Crawford, then an executive at MacWorld publisher IDG, that "the service is likely to change significantly in coming months, with price drops and big growth in the library of available music." In his words, "It's a premium service at the moment," he said. "The audience that Apple is after here can afford the iPod and to pay for music like this. But by the time it comes to Windows, it'll be a lot different." He was half right. The library has grown but songs have generally remaining 99 cents in the United States, and iPods vary in cost from US$49 to many hundreds. But again, we are reading his words with the insight of hindsight. Perhaps some people at the time thought that iPods were too expensive and songs were too expensive. We've seen though that the market hasn't agreed with that.
I must admit that I am not an expert on music. My taste runs from the uncommon (Fresh Aire/