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iTunes Store
ITunes Store.svg
ITunes Store screenshot.png
iTunes Music Store 9.0.2 under Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard,
Opened April 28, 2003 (as iTunes Music Store)
Pricing model À la carte, tiered; limited time rentals available for tv shows and videos
Platforms Mac OS X, Windows, Apple TV, and iPhone OS.
Format Protected AAC (.m4p) @ 128 kbit/s (no longer sold in the music store), audiobooks 32 and 64 kbit/s, Protected MPEG-4 Video (.m4v).
As of April 2009, the iTunes Store sells unprotected AAC (.m4a) @ 256 kbit/s, and unprotected MPEG-4 Music Video (.m4v)(some still in protected format)
Restrictions (Protected) Music — streaming to five computers every 24 hours, unlimited CDs (seven with an unchanged playlist), unlimited iPods and iPhones.
Catalogue More than 10 million songs worldwide, 1,000,000+ podcasts (USA), 40,000+ music videos (USA),
3,000+ TV shows (USA), 20,000+ audiobooks (USA), 49 iPod games (USA), 2,500+ movies (USA), 100,000+ App Store Apps
Preview 30 seconds (Music, TV, & Video) / 90 seconds (Audiobooks) / 30+ seconds (Movies)
Streaming Previews and Podcasts only
Protocol iTunes Music Store Protocol (itms://)
Availability See article
Features Allowance, “Just For You”, Celebrity Playlists, gift certificates and gift cards, iMix, billboard charts, advanced search
Customer support Web only; See article
Website itunes.com

The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple Inc. Opening as the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, with over 200,000 items to purchase, it was as of April 2008 the number-one music vendor in the United States.[1] As of January 2009, the store has sold 6 billion songs,[2] accounting for 70% of worldwide online digital music sales and making the service the largest legal music retailer.[3] While most downloaded files have previously included restrictions on their use, enforced by FairPlay, Apple's implementation of digital rights management, iTunes initiated a shift into selling DRM-free music in some countries, marketed as iTunes Plus. On January 6, 2009, Apple announced that DRM had been removed from 80% of the entire music catalog in the US.[4] Full iTunes Plus availability was achieved on April 7, 2009 in the US, coinciding with the introduction of a three-tiered pricing model.

Contents

Features and restrictions

Pricing model

Since the introduction of the iTunes Store, individual songs were all sold for the same price with no subscription fee (in contrast to most existing online music stores at the time of introduction, which charged a monthly fee for access to their catalog). Music in the store is in the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, which is the MPEG-4-specified successor to MP3. Songs with DRM are encoded at 128 kbit/s. As of the January 2009 Macworld Expo, Apple has announced that all music in iTunes will be available without DRM, and encoded at the higher-quality rate of 256 kbit/s. Previously, this model, known as "iTunes Plus", had been available only for music from EMI and some independent labels. Previews, thirty seconds in length, are available free, prior to buying a song. iTunes had the option between fully loading previews before playing, or simply streaming the preview; the former feature was removed with the release of iTunes 8.[5]

Feature length movies and television episodes are available for purchase. Movies tend to be priced below a DVD of the same film while television episodes are approximately double the cost of a song.

Finally, some games are available for some models of iPods for various prices, but none as expensive as a feature length film. In addition, the iTunes Store now offers Apps, which are applications used for various purposes (games, maps, movie showtimes, etc.) that are compatible with the iPod Touch and iPhone, although some Apps are specifically for the iPhone only. Some Apps cost money (called "Paid Apps") and some are free (called "Free Apps"). Generally, games are paid apps, while other various apps (i.e. movie showtimes and demos of paid apps) are free.

At the Macworld 2008 keynote, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes movie rentals[6]. Movies are available for rent in the iTunes Store on the same day they are released on DVD.[7] They are only viewable for 48 hours after users begin viewing them. This feature is not yet available in all countries.

Weekly promotions

There is a weekly promotion in which one to three songs are available to download for free to logged-in users. Free downloads are available on Tuesdays, and remain free until the following Tuesday[8]. Some artists choose to have select songs available for no charge. This is not available at all iTunes Stores. Some iTunes television programs have begun the same technique to encourage brand loyalty; although those stay longer. In fact, the iTunes Store used to have a link to "Free TV" on its home page and the TV Shows section's home page which links to a complete listing of free TV shows, however it has disappeared (the page has remained online). Apple still sells free TV episodes; some channels, such as ABC and NBC, have their own pages of "Free Season Premieres".

There are usually three types of free songs on the United States iTunes Store: the regular featured free song, the Discovery Download (featuring songs from different genres), and the Canción de la Semana (Latino free single of the week). Most recently, iTunes has been weekly offering free music videos.

Availability

To buy files through the store, a user must pay with an iTunes gift card or a credit card with a billing address in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada (although gift cards may not be used in the App Store), Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, or the United States. Apple also offers other payment methods (like Paypal), which differ from country to country. Residents in other countries can only buy a gift card from a merchant or download free podcasts and previews.

iTunes Store for iPhone OS

The iTunes Store shown on the iPod Touch.

The release of the iPhone and iPod Touch brought the introduction of the iTunes Music Store. This version of the iTunes Store allows owners of the iPod Touch and iPhone to purchase music and download podcasts directly on the portable music device.[9] Originally to access the store the user had to be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to enter the store, hence its original name: the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. However, at Macworld 2009, Apple issued a software update which automatically allowed 3G and EDGE users to access the store's full functionality for files smaller than 10 MB.[10] The 3.0 update added the ability to download movies, TV shows, audiobooks, iTunes U, and ringtones on the devices.

Customer support

Apple provides customer support for the iTunes Store over the phone through AppleCare; Timothy Noah of Slate has also found a customer service line.[11] Most customer service inquiries are handled online, via Report a Problem link in iTunes Application.[12]

Catalog content

Music

The store began after Apple signed deals with the five major record labels at the time, EMI, Universal, Warner, Sony Music Entertainment, and BMG (the last two would later merge to form Sony BMG). Music from more than 2,000 independent labels was added later, the first from The Orchard on June 24, 2003.

The store has more than 10,000,000 songs,[13] including exclusive tracks from numerous artists. Not all artists are available on iTunes, including some popular ones such as The Beatles and AC/DC.[14]

New songs are added to the iTunes catalog every day, while the iTunes Store is updated each Tuesday. Apple also releases a 'Single of the Week' in both English and sometimes Spanish and usually a 'Discovery Download' on Tuesdays, which are available for free for one week.[15]

Downloaded songs come with song information (name, artist, album) already filled out, though iTunes provides a free service by Gracenote to do this for songs not purchased from the store, although they must be imported with iTunes. Songs that have an entry in the iTunes Store also come with album artwork (Artwork is embedded in the metadata). As of the release of iTunes 7, the artwork can be obtained for songs not purchased from the store for free if the user has an iTunes Store account. Purchased songs do not come with lyrics already typed in to the application's window for them; nor does iTunes provide a service for acquiring the missing lyrics. However, several third-party applications exist to locate and automatically add lyrics to the user's music.

"Album Only" songs

Some songs are available from the store by "Album Only", meaning the song can only be acquired through the purchase of the entire album, whereas most songs can be downloaded separately from the album they belong to. Most songs above 10 minutes in length are automatically album-only songs. Soundtracks also often have many Album Only tracks. Movie soundtracks normally include songs owned by many different labels, making licensing more complex. For example, Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack includes songs from Peacock Records, Argo Records & Capitol Records, among many others. Greatest Hits by Red Hot Chili Peppers has only one song, "Higher Ground," that is not available for download on a per song basis.

Sub-divisions

When entering the U.S. music store, there are multiple sub-divided stores that one can go into. These stores are either found under ‘More In Music,’ ‘Genres,’ ‘Pre-Orders,’ ‘Celebrity Playlists’ and ‘Free Downloads.’ Within ‘More In Music,’ one can enter various stores such as Starbucks Entertainment and iTunes Essentials. iTunes Essentials contains groupings of music based upon the artist of the music (Artist Essentials), the genre or history of the music (Genres and History), or any other similarities (My Groove). Each grouping of music is essentially a pre-made playlist. The songs in the playlist are all listed in order of their importance, starting with the artist's most well-known song. These playlists usually contain either 45 or 75 songs equally distributed in three sections: The Basics (the biggest, best, and most important songs), Next Steps (usually composed of popular songs just beyond the hits) and Deep Cuts (under-appreciated songs). Occasionally, specific Artist Essentials do not have a Deep Cuts section. This usually depends on how many releases the artist has completed over the years. Within ‘Genres,’ one can enter music stores that only have one genre. These genres include alternative, blues, children's music, Christian & gospel, classical, comedy (this includes comedy rock and stand-up comedy), country, dance, electronic, hip-hop/rap, jazz, Latino, pop, R&B/soul, reggae, rock, singer–songwriter, soundtrack, vocal, and world. There are a total of 20 genres in the U.S. music store. ‘Pre-Orders’ lists albums that one can pre-order before the album is released. ‘Celebrity Playlists’ contains lists of songs chosen and described by celebrities. ‘Free Downloads’ are songs that subscribed iTunes Store users can obtain for free.

On November 1, 2006, Apple created a category for Latino and Hispanic content, “iTunes Latino”. Telemundo and Mun2 made some of their popular programs available for purchase, becoming the first Hispanic television content in the store. It offers music, music videos, audiobooks, podcasts and television shows in Spanish in a single concentrated area. The brief descriptions given to the content is in Spanish as well as several sub-categories. Gibraltarian Flamenco Metal band Breed 77, released an exclusive album called Un Encuentro to coincide with the launch of “iTunes Latino”. It features 11 songs, all from previous albums, but all sung in Spanish.

Song censorship

iTunes has a policy of censoring profanity in its song listings.[16] This has resulted in a Scunthorpe glitch.[17]

If the iTunes Store deems that lyrics are offensive, it will be marked "explicit" next to the song title. If a song is marked "explicit" it is unavailable for purchase if "restrict explicit content" is checked under the parental controls preference. Often there will be a "clean" mark next to the title of some songs, meaning the lyrics have been censored, and is available to purchase on all accounts. Generally if a song is marked "clean" there is an explicit version available as well.

Podcasts

The iTunes Store has over 150,000 podcasts available to subscribe. Once a podcast has been subscripted, iTunes will automatically download new episodes to that person's iTunes library. They are available for free.

Audiobooks

The iTunes Store also includes over 20,000 audiobooks, encoded at 32 kbit/s (22.050-24.000 kHz, mono) and 64 kbit/s (22.050 kHz, stereo). Ninety-second previews are offered for every book. These books are provided by Audible.com. This is the same format available if the user signs up directly with Audible.com and chose the "iPod" format. The main difference is that it is unnecessary to sign up for a subscription to get audiobooks as is the case with Audible. A small discount is provided through buying audiobooks through the iTunes Store, but on a selective basis by Apple in comparison to an "always on member discount" if one has an Audible subscription. The "Audiobooks" category also includes radio shows and all other audio-only programs, except podcasts.

Video

In October 2005, Apple announced the latest iPod would be capable of playing video files, which would be sold online through the iTunes Store in the U.S.[18] These videos included 2,000 music videos and episodes of popular television programs. Apple made a deal with Disney to be the first supplier of TV shows. The first shows available included episodes of Lost and Desperate Housewives with each episode becoming available the day after it originally aired on broadcast TV. Several short animated films by Pixar are available.

The selling of videos on iTunes sparked considerable debate as to whether there was a paying audience for programming available for free on TV. As MP3 Newswire pointed out, users are not so much paying for the TV programs themselves. Instead they are really paying for a service that offers the convenience of someone else digitizing free broadcast episodes for them for their portable device, each episode in commercial-free form, and a convenient place to select and download individual shows. Through an updated version of QuickTime Pro, users can create their own videos for the iPod, including digitized versions of programs recorded on their VCR if they wish to take the time and effort to save the cost.

With the launch of iTunes 8, many TV shows, such as The Office and Heroes, have begun offering their programing in High Definition (HD).

In addition to the launch of high definition TV shows, iTunes 8 allowed for the rental of movies through the iTunes Store. The playing of movie rentals must begin within 30 days of purchase and must be completed within 24 hours of having been started.[19]

In March 2009, Apple announced that iTunes customers can purchase and rent selected movie titles in HD from their computers. Previously, HD movie rentals were only available for purchase and playback on the Apple TV. HD movies available for purchase are priced at $19.99, introduced with titles such as Quantum of Solace and Twilight.[20]

iTunes U

iTunes U was announced at Cupertino, California on May 30, 2007. The service was created to manage, distribute, and control access to educational audio and video content and PDF files for students within a college or university as well as the broader Internet. The member institutions are given their own iTunes U site that makes use of Apple’s iTunes Store infrastructure. The online service is without cost to those uploading or downloading material. Content includes course lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations, sports highlights and campus tours provided by qualifying two- and four-year accredited, degree-granting, public or private colleges and universities in the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.[21][22]

An advantage iTunes U has over traditional podcasting tools is that access to content can be restricted because of the use of the iTunes infrastructure end-to-end. Authentication is handled by member college and university who prompts a visitor for information (like an account and password specific to that institution) and then passed a token onto the iTunes U site that contains the access level for that visitor.[23] An example might be a class podcast that can only be accessed by student enrolled in the class.

iTunes U has material from a myriad of places including colleges and universities. There are over 75,000 files available to download. Individual universities can be visited through the Universities & Colleges section, and other institutions can be visited through the "Beyond Campus" section.[24]

iTunes U functions much like Podcasts in that users can either download individual streams or subscribe to a stream so that iTunes will automatically download it.[24]

Since making changes to individual iTunes U sites may be difficult to users not well-versed in XML tools (ie. XQuery), Apple has created the Woolamaloo Automator to aid users in the editing of sites. The Woolamaloo Automator makes it easy for non-programmers to use the iTunes U web services. By using the workflow tool on Apple’s desktop, Automator, the Woolamaloo actions can not only be configured but can then be combined to help with any routine iTunes U administrative tasks. The Woolamaloo Automator has become popular because of its easy design.[25]

iPod games

On September 12, 2006, the iTunes Store began to offer additional games for purchase with the launch of iTunes 7, compatible with the iPod Classic or iPod Nano with video playback. Launch titles included: Bejeweled, Cubis, Mini Golf, Mahjong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Texas Hold 'Em, Vortex, and Zuma. Though they are downloaded through iTunes, the games cannot be played within the application itself; they can only be played on an iPod Classic or iPod Nano.

App Store

With the launch of iPhone 3G and the 2.0 iPhone OS firmware for iPod Touch and iPhone owners, the App Store allows people to download applications through the iTunes desktop software or the App Store on their iPhones. As of October 27, 2009, there are over 100,000 third-party applications available[26]. The applications can only be run on iPhones or iPod Touch. Each application is also protected with iTunes FairPlay DRM. Developers of these applications receive 70 percent of the income and free applications are distributed without charge to the developer.[27]

Market share and milestones

Sales of iTunes songs

Since its launch, the iTunes Store has crossed many milestones. In the first 18 hours, the store sold about 275,000 tracks and more than 1,000,000 in its first 5 days. When released for Windows in October 2003, iTunes was downloaded more than 1,000,000 times in the first 3 days, selling more than 1,000,000 songs in that period. On December 15, 2003 Apple announced that it had crossed 25 million songs sold.

In January 2004 at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced (Sellers, 2004) that an unnamed person had purchased US$29,500 worth of music. On March 15, 2004, Apple announced that iTunes Music Store customers had purchased and downloaded 50 million songs from the iTunes Music Store. They also reported that customers were purchasing 2.5 million songs a week which translates to a projected annual run rate of 130 million songs a year. The 50 millionth song was "The Path of Thorns" by Sarah McLachlan.[28]

On April 28, 2004, the iTunes Music Store marked its first anniversary with 70 million songs sold, clear dominance in the paid online music market and a slight profit.[29] The store also offers hundreds of movie trailers and music videos, in an attempt to boost soundtrack sales. In the conference, Steve Jobs reiterated that a subscription service is still not in the interest of customers and reported that only 5 million of the 100 million songs offered in the Pepsi giveaway campaign were redeemed, which he blamed on technical problems in Pepsi distribution. According to an Apple Press Release released on August 10, 2004, the iTunes Music Store is the first store to have a catalog of more than one million songs.[30] Also, the iTunes Music Store at that point maintained an over 70 percent market share of legal music downloads.

Milestones

Music

  • 100 million songs sold: Summer, 2004
(Kevin Britten of Hays, Kansas, bought the 100 millionth song, and the twenty-year-old was given a call from Steve Jobs congratulating him.)[31]
  • 125 million songs sold: September 1, 2004[32]
  • 150 million songs sold: October 14, 2004[33]
  • 200 million songs sold: December 16, 2004
(Ryan Alekman of Belchertown, Massachusetts, USA, bought the 200 millionth song, which was one of the tracks on U2's digital box set The Complete U2.)[34]
  • 250 million songs sold: January 24, 2005[35]
  • 300 million songs sold: March 2, 2005[36]
  • 400 million songs sold: May 10, 2005[37]

On July 5, 2005 Apple announced a promotion counting down to half a billion songs sold.[38]

  • 500 million songs sold: July 18, 2005
(Amy Greer of Lafayette, Indiana, USA, bought the 500 millionth song, "Mississippi Girl" by Faith Hill.)[39]
  • 850 million songs sold: January 10, 2006[40]
  • 1 billion songs sold: February 23, 2006
(Alex Ostrovsky of West Bloomfield, Michigan, bought the billionth song, "Speed of Sound" by Coldplay.[41] He later got a call from Steve Jobs with the good news that the sixteen-year-old was getting ten iPods, an iMac, a $10,000 music gift certificate, and a scholarship established in his name at the Juilliard School.)[31]
  • 1.5 billion songs sold: September 12, 2006[42]
  • 2 billion songs sold: January 10, 2007[42]
  • 2.5 billion songs sold: April 9, 2007[43]
  • 3 billion songs sold: July 31, 2007[44]
  • 4 billion songs sold: January 15, 2008
  • 5 billion songs sold: June 19, 2008[45]
  • 6 billion songs sold: January 6, 2009[46]
  • 8 billion songs sold: July 21, 2009
  • 8.5 billion songs sold: September 9, 2009

Video

  • 1 million videos sold: October 31, 2005[47]
  • 3+ million videos sold: December 6, 2005[48]
  • 8 million videos sold: January 10, 2006[40]
  • 15 million videos sold: February 23, 2006[41]
  • 45 million videos sold: September 12, 2006[42]
  • 50 million television episodes sold: January 10, 2007[42]
  • 1.3 million feature-length films sold: January 10, 2007[42]
  • 2 million feature-length films sold: July 31, 2007[49]
  • 200 million television episodes sold: October 16, 2008[50]
  • 1+ million HD episodes sold: October 16, 2008[50]

Applications

  • 10 million apps downloaded: July 14, 2008[51]
  • 100 million apps downloaded: September 9, 2008[52]
  • 200 million apps downloaded: October 22, 2008[53]
  • 300 million apps downloaded: December 5, 2008[54]
  • 500 million apps downloaded: January 16, 2009[55]
  • 800 million apps downloaded: March 17, 2009[56]
  • 1 billion apps downloaded: April 23, 2009[57]
  • 1.5 billion apps downloaded: July 14, 2009[58]
  • 1.8 billion apps downloaded: September 9, 2009
  • 2 billion apps downloaded: September 28, 2009

Market share

  • Steve Jobs announced in his "It's Showtime" keynote that Apple had 88% of the legal U.S. music download market on September 12, 2006.[42]
  • Apple announced that the iTunes Store had sold more than two million movies, making it the world’s most popular online movie store on April 11, 2007.[49]
  • Apple announced that iTunes Store surpassed Best Buy to become the second biggest music seller in the USA behind Wal-Mart on February 26, 2008 and eventually became number one on April 3, 2008.[1]

Internationalization

Originally only Mac OS X users who had credit cards with a U.S. billing address could buy songs with the service, but Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, announced plans to support both Windows and non-American users. The Windows version of iTunes and support for the Windows platform from the iTunes Music Store were announced on October 16, 2003, with immediate availability. Beginning in 2004, the service has become available in a number of countries other than the United States:

  • On 15 June 2004, the iTunes Music Store was launched in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. According to an Apple Press Release, the European iTunes Music Stores sold a combined total of 800,000 songs in one week, with 450,000 of those songs sold in the UK.[59]
  • On 26 October 2004 nine countries were added to the iTunes Music Store in a large EU store expansion: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. This extended availability to all countries that were then in the Eurozone except for the Republic of Ireland, where the iTMS became available on 6 January 2005. These countries also pay €0.99 for songs, and have a shared catalogue/database system. The Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Greek stores have been localized. Some of these stores also currently (still) lack music videos, movies and TV series (such as the Portuguese, Belgian, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Irish, Greek, Austrian, Swiss, Danish, Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian iTunes Stores). The French, German, American, and British stores are localized for their respective countries and have different catalogs including but not limited to Music, Music videos, Movies, TV-Series and iPhone Apps.
  • On 3 December 2004 the British Office of Fair Trading referred the iTunes Music Store to the European Commission because it prevents consumers in one EU country from buying music from stores in other EU countries, in violation of EU free-trade legislation; the immediate cause of the referral was because the €0.99 price charged in the Eurozone equates to UK£0.68 in sterling, rather than the UK£0.79 actually charged there. The iTunes Store is not yet available in any of the countries that joined the Eurozone after the original launch of the store—Slovenia (2007), Cyprus (2008), Malta (2008), or Slovakia (2009).
  • The iTunes Music Store was launched in Canada on December 3, 2004.
  • On 10 May 2005, the iTunes Music Store opened for Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and Denmark, after about two weeks of speculation about these countries (and Australia) receiving the store.
  • Apple officially launched the iTunes Music Store in Japan on 4 August 2005, with 1 million songs available.[60] In the next four days the store had sold one million songs – the pace faster than that of the U.S. store.[61] In addition to a long delay, Apple failed to have one set price for singles. Pundits speculated that this may have indicated the introduction of new price structure to the rest of the stores in future, in favor of record labels who would like to see higher prices for new songs. This extension to other countries was announced in January 2009.
  • The iTunes Music Store was launched in Australia on 25 October 2005. The release of video-capable iPods also saw the store launch with music videos and short films by Pixar. iTunes Gift Cards (as they are now known) are now also available in many more stores such as JB Hi-Fi, David Jones, and the Woolworths chain of stores. Access was inadvertently given to some people in New Zealand, too.[62] Failed negotiations with the Sony BMG label meant that none of that label's artists were available at the time of launch; they were later added on January 17, 2006. On June 23, 2008, television shows were added to the Australian iTunes Store, with a combination of both Australian and international programming.[63]
  • On November 1, 2006, the store started offering a range of Latino content including television shows and music for its Hispanic American, Mexican and Puerto Rican clients.[64]
  • The iTunes Store (along with a local Apple Online Store) was officially launched in New Zealand on December 6, 2006, although New Zealand users had briefly been able to buy from the Australian store when it first opened until that loophole was closed.[65]
  • Many users from central and south Europe are still waiting for their version of iTunes.
  • The newly developed iTunes Movie Rentals will be released outside the U.S. within a year from July 2008.
  • On 4 June 2008 the United Kingdom and Canada became the first countries to be able to buy and rent films on the iTunes Store at UK£2.49 per rental and UK£6.99 to buy and CA$3.49 and CA$14.99 respectively.
  • On the August 14, 2008, Australia and New Zealand became the 4th and 5th countries, respectively, to have movies available on iTunes from major movie companies Walt Disney and Lions Gate International. 21st Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Paramount, and other major motion picture companies are scheduled to be released.

TV Shows were added to the Australian iTunes on June 24 starting with 21 titles from ABC in the US, ABC Australia, the Disney Channel, MTV, and Channel 9. Shows included Summer Heights High, Scrubs, The Hills, Lost, Hannah Montana, and Desperate Housewives.

  • On August 4, 2009, Mexico became the first Latin American country to have a music store,[66] pricing songs for MX$12 each and music videos for MX$24.[67][68] It is also expected to sell movies in the near future, gift cards have also been launched, being available for MX$200, MX$300, and MX$600.[69] The Spanish used on the Mexican store has been modified to Mexican Spanish.[70][71]

As of the 2009 Macworld Conference & Expo, Apple has given no new information of the (possible; future) inclusion and expansion of music videos, TV-shows and movies in other European countries. The stores of the UK, Germany and France currently remain the only European Stores with local and/or localized selections of TV-shows, movies and music videos.

File format

Originally, songs were encoded using FairPlay-encrypted 128 kbit/s AAC streams in an mp4 wrapper, using the .m4p extension.

While licenses to the AAC compression and the mp4 file format are readily available, Apple generally has not agreed to license its proprietary FairPlay encryption scheme to other mobile device manufacturers, so only devices from Apple are able to play the Fairplay-encrypted songs sold at the iTunes Store. The only exceptions were three mobile phones sold by Motorola in the years 2005–6: the Motorola ROKR E1, the Motorola RAZR V3i, and the Motorola SLVR L7.

Currently the digital booklets included with some albums are in PDF. With the present iPod software, these files are not readable on iPods.

As of May 29, 2007 tracks on the EMI label have been made available in a DRM-less format called iTunes Plus. These files are unprotected and are encoded in the AAC format at 256 kbit/s, twice the bitrate of standard tracks bought through the service. They are labelled as "purchased AAC audio file" (.m4a) rather than "protected AAC audio file" (.m4p) in iTunes and the context menu obtained by right-clicking the song includes an option to convert to MP3. In January, 2009, Apple announced that all music would be available in the iTunes Plus format, bringing an end to the sale of music with DRM on iTunes.

In April, the sale of protected music ended in the western versions of the store, making all music in the iTunes Store "iTunes Plus". Some music videos are also available now in "iTunes Plus", which give higher audio bitrates and higher video bitrates. iTunes store users may choose to "upgrade" any of their downloaded iTunes music to iTunes Plus if they wish, but most songs require payment to do so. FairPlay DRM-protected music is still available in the Japanese iTunes store.

In September 2009, Apple introduced the iTunes LP format (known pre-launch by the code name "Cocktail") [72][73] which features visual, interactive content alongside album tracks and lyrics.

Digital rights management

A white fifth-generation iPod with earphones. The only handheld devices licensed to play protected music from the iTunes Store are iPods, the iPhone, the iPod Touch and selected Motorola mobile phones, such as the ROKR.

Apple's FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) is integrated into iTunes, which manages songs purchased from iTunes Store. iTunes relies on FairPlay to implement three main restrictions:

  • Users can make a maximum of seven CD copies of any particular playlist containing songs purchased from the iTunes Store.
  • Users can access their purchased songs on a maximum of five computers.
  • Songs can only be played on a computer with iTunes or an iPod; other MP3 devices do not support FairPlay encoded tracks.

There are no restrictions on number of iPods to which a purchased song can be transferred nor the number of times any individual song can be burned to CD.

When Apple initially introduced FairPlay, songs purchased through iTunes had limits of three simultaneous machines and ten CD copies of a playlist. The adjustment to the current limits was implemented with the introduction of iTunes 4.5 in April 2004, presumably as the result of re-negotiations Apple had with major labels.

Apple's DRM technology is breakable. Various programs have been written to remove the FairPlay wrapper and allow the AAC files to be used without technological restriction. More simply, a user can convert protected files to unprotected MP3 format by burning them to an audio CD, then ripping them back to iTunes. (Some audio quality is lost in this transcoding from one lossy format to another, although Compact Discs are lossless, typically the end and start formats are both lossy) An alternative, though equally lossy, way of transcoding the files is to record the "Wave Out Mix" using an audio recording program (such as Audacity or Audio Hijack Pro) while playing the song on iTunes — and then encoding it to a format of the user's choice.

Competitors accuse Apple of using iPod, the iTunes Store, and "FairPlay" to establish a vertical monopoly and a lock-in for iPod users to use the iTunes Store exclusively (and vice versa). This "lock" has two aspects:

  • Apple has maintained tight control of its FairPlay encryption. Other online music stores cannot sell music files encoded with FairPlay, and competing devices from companies such as Creative Labs and iriver cannot play such files. This means that consumers who want to listen to songs downloaded from the iTunes Store must either have an iPod or convert the files to an open format.
  • The iPod does not play files encoded in the Microsoft's WMA format or RealNetwork's Helix-protected format used by other online music stores. iPod owners who want to play music from other stores must circumvent the files' DRM.

In July 2004, RealNetworks debuted an application named Harmony, which converted files purchased from RealNetworks' RealRhapsody service into a FairPlay-compatible format that an iPod could play. In response, Apple accused RealNetworks of "adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod."[74] and released a firmware upgrade that rendered iPods incapable of playing such files. On January 3, 2005, an iTunes Music Store customer sued Apple, alleging the company broke US antitrust laws by freezing out competitors.[75]

In 2006, a controversy erupted about a French draft law aimed at reinforcing the protection of works of art against "piracy", or illegal copying; some clauses of the law could possibly be used to request Apple to provide information about its FairPlay system to manufacturers of competing players. Apple and associated lobbying groups protested the draft law, going as far as to suggest that it condoned "state-sponsored piracy." Some U.S. commentators claimed that the law was a protectionistic measure against the iPod.

Movement against DRM

On February 6, 2007, Steve Jobs called on the Big Four record labels to allow their music to be sold DRM-free.[76] On April 2, 2007, Apple and the record label EMI announced that the iTunes Store would begin offering, as an additional purchasing option, tracks from EMI's catalog encoded as 256 kbit/s AAC without FairPlay or any other DRM.

On May 29, 2007, Apple released version 7.2 of its iTunes software, allowing users to purchase DRM-free music and music videos from participating labels. These new files, available through the iTunes Store, have been called iTunes Plus music by Apple.

In October 2007, iTunes Plus ceased to be a purchasing option. It instead became automatic for all iTunes Plus licensed content. In addition, the price of iTunes Plus reverted to the DRM price.

Almost immediately after the launch of iTunes Plus, reports surfaced that the DRM-free tracks sold by the iTunes Store contained identifying information about the customer, embedding the purchasing account's full name and e-mail address as metadata in the file. While this information has always been in iTunes downloads both with and without Fairplay DRM, it is thought that it remains in the tracks as a measure to trace the source of tracks shared illegally online, which the absence of DRM now facilitates. Privacy groups expressed concerns that this data could be misused if possessions carrying the files were stolen, and potentially wrongly incriminate a user for copyright infringement.[77]

On January 6, 2009 at the Macworld Expo, Apple announced a significant overhaul of the iTunes Plus catalog with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI offering all their music in iTunes Plus immediately. As of the announcement, 8 million songs were available in Apple's DRM-free format. As of April 2009, all songs are now available in the iTunes Plus format, with the exception of the Japanese iTunes store.

Promotions

On Super Bowl Sunday, February 1, 2004, Apple launched a promotion with Pepsi in which they gave away 100 million songs, through tokens on selected soft drink bottle caps. Unfortunately for Apple, Pepsi failed to properly distribute the bottles to major metropolitan areas until only weeks before the promotion ended, despite a one-month extension of the deadline by Apple. The promotion was repeated beginning January 31, 2005, with 200 million songs available, and an iPod Mini given away every hour.

On July 1, 2004, Apple announced that, starting with the sale of the 95 millionth song, an iPod would be given away to the buyer of each 100 thousandth song, for a total of 50 iPods. The buyer of the 100 millionth song would receive a PowerBook, iPod, and US$10,000 gift certificate to the iTunes Music Store.

Ten days later, on July 11, Apple announced that 100 million songs had been sold through the iTunes Music Store. The 100 millionth song was titled "Somersault (Dangermouse Remix)" by Zero 7, purchased by Kevin Britten of Hays, Kansas. He then received a phone call from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who offered his congratulations, as well as a 40 GB 3rd Generation iPod laser-engraved with a message of thanks.

Inspired by Pepsi's marketing success with iTunes giveaways, Coca-Cola partnered with 7-Eleven to give away a free iTunes song with every 32 oz. Slurpee frozen beverage until July 31, 2005. Songs could be redeemed until August 31, 2005 by entering a code printed on the Slurpee cup into the iTunes Music Store application. Coca-Cola did this in spite of having its own music store, myCokeMusic.com, that competed with the iTunes Music Store in Europe. myCokeMusic.com ceased business on July 31, 2006.[78]

On July 5, 2005, Apple announced that they were counting down to half a billion songs. The buyer of every 100 thousandth song up to 500 million would receive an iPod Mini and a 50-song gift card. The grand prize for the person who downloads the 500 millionth song was 10 iPods of their choice, a 10,000-song gift card, 10 50-song gift cards or 4 tickets to the Coldplay world tour. Twelve days later, on July 17, Apple announced that 500 million songs had been sold through the iTunes Music Store. The 500 millionth song, purchased by Amy Greer of Lafayette, Indiana, was "Mississippi Girl" by Faith Hill.

On July 28, 2005, Apple and The Gap announced a promotion to award iTunes music downloads to Gap customers who tried on a pair of Gap jeans.[79] From August 8 to August 31, 2005, each customer who tried on any pair of Gap jeans could receive a free download for a song of their choice from the iTunes Music Store.

On February 7, 2006, Apple announced that they were counting down to the billionth song download and began a promotion similar to the previous 100 million and 500 million countdown. Whoever downloaded the billionth song would receive a 20" iMac, ten 60 GB iPods, and a US$10,000 iTunes Music Card. The billionth song was purchased on February 23, 2006 by Alex Ostrovsky of West Bloomfield, Michigan. The purchased song was "Speed of Sound" as part of Coldplay's X&Y album.

On July 25, 2006, Facebook and iTunes began offering a promotion where members of the Apple Students group would receive a free 25 song sampler each week until September 30 in various music genres. The idea behind the promotion was to get students more familiar and enthusiastic with each service as Autumn classes approached.[80] However in order to prevent abuse of the promotion, the weekly code that Facebook provided stopped working after it was redeemed one million times. In addition, the promotion caused discontent among international students, as the code was only valid in the U.S. iTunes Music Store.

On April 10, 2009, Apple announced that it will be counting down to the billionth app. Apps being the applications for iPod Touch and iPhone. Launching a counter that is constantly running on Good Friday, Apple starting counting down.[81] Connor Mulcahey, age 13 of Weston, CT, downloaded the billionth app, "Bump" by Bump Technologies, and will receive a Macbook Pro 17", a 32 GB iPod Touch, a Time Capsule, and a $10,000 Gift Card for the iTunes store.

Other platforms

Although iTunes is only supported on Mac OS X and Windows operating systems and devices, users of other platforms have been able to buy music from the iTunes Store by a variety of methods. iTunes is known to run passably well in Linux using the Wine compatibility layer, but this method only works with x86 PCs.[82] There have been alternative programs developed to access the iTunes Store, including SharpMusique (which is no longer functional).

Technical details

Starting with iTunes 9.0, store pages were delivered using standard HTML with a special header. iTunes uses WebKit to render these pages on the screen.[83] Prior to iTunes 9.0, The iTunes Store was delivered using a custom XML format that describes the position of all of the elements, boxes, album art and all of their properties — including whether a reference link can be dragged out of iTunes and into another document. The App Store portion of the store is still rendered in this fashion. The store itself was written in WebObjects - Apple's own application server it acquired from NeXT. Content is uploaded to the iTunes data store using an internal Apple program called iTunes Producer, which automatically encodes and adds metadata to uploaded files.

Legal disputes

Apple Records

For three years, The Beatles' record company Apple Records were in a legal dispute, Apple Corps v. Apple Computer, with Apple Computer over the name "Apple." On May 8, 2006, a ruling was declared in favor of Apple Computer, but Apple Records said it would appeal the ruling. Despite this, plans were announced by Neil Aspinall in April 2006 to completely remaster and release the entire Beatles catalog on an unspecified online music service, as well as release some previously unheard work by the band. No date has been set as of yet.[84] It has also been reported that the Beatles' music catalog might initially be appearing on iTunes only, as Apple is reported to be negotiating with Britain's EMI group over an online distribution deal that might be exclusive for a limited time.[85] During his January 9, 2007 Macworld Keynote address, Apple CEO Steve Jobs used the band's song "Lovely Rita" to introduce the music-playing capabilities of the company's new iPhone. This was regarded by industry observers as further evidence that the Beatles catalog would be introduced to the iTunes Music Store catalog in the near future.[86] On February 5, 2007, Apple Corps and Apple Inc. announced they had reached a settlement in their legal dispute.[87] In a related development, Apple announced on August 14, 2007 that the entire solo catalog of John Lennon would be available on iTunes.[88] The solo catalogs of the other three Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, are also available on iTunes. While The Beatles' official catalog is not yet available, some of their music covered by different artists are available.

The Consumer Council of Norway EULA challenge

On June 6, 2006, The Consumer Ombudsmen in Norway, Sweden and Denmark launched a common open letter to Apple regarding the EULA of iTunes through the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjørn Erik Thon.[89] The iTunes case is based upon an official complaint[90] filed by The Consumer Council of Norway on January 25, 2006.

The main allegations were that:

  • The EULA is unbalanced to disfavor the customer. Scandinavian law requires any written agreement to favor both parties. The weak party also enjoys protection from exploitation according to Norwegian consumer laws.
  • The iTunes Store's use of Digital rights management limits the number of devices purchased songs can be played on.
  • iTunes' contract entitles the company to at any time change the terms of the contract without notice, including the selection of players or software that must be used for iTunes files, and also the number of times a customer can change or copy already purchased files.
  • The EULA is both vague and hard to understand for the customers.
  • The EULA states that the legal relationship between the company and customers is regulated by English contract law. It is unreasonable to expect Norwegian consumers to have comprehensive knowledge of English law. Products marketed to Norwegian consumers in Norway are subject to Norwegian law — a right that cannot be waived by a clause in a company's standard customer contract.
  • The EULA removes iTunes' responsibility regarding damage to the consumer’s computer due to software errors even though responsibility cannot be waived in Scandinavian Law.

Apple responded July 31, 2006.[91]

On January 22, 2007, German and French consumer groups joined forces with Norway and Finland.[92][93] Their goal is to create a united European front against iTunes (Germany and France have each had their own negotiation process with iTunes). According to the press statement Apple is in favor of this. The key points in the negotiations were:

  • Interoperability — the consumer should have the right and ability to play his or her music on any device of his or her own choice.
  • Change of conditions — iTunes must revoke their right to change the terms and conditions (EULA) at any time without the consent of the consumer.
  • Liability — iTunes should change its clause limiting its liability to recover consumer damages if they are caused by content sold by iTunes.
  • Applicable Law — Consumers entering into a contract with iTunes should be able to rely on the consumer protection rules according to the law of the country in which they live.

EU anti-trust case

In 2004, Which? magazine complained to the European Commission about the higher prices in UK for the same songs sold in the EU. Typically 0.99 Euro in EU and 79 pence in the UK.[94] In 2008 the Commission withdrew its investigation after Apple agreed to end the price discrimination.

Content disputes

Universal Music Group

On July 1, 2007, the New York Times reported[95] that Universal (currently the world's biggest music corporation) would not renew its annual contract to sell music through iTunes. Instead, Universal said that it would market music to Apple at will, allowing it to remove its songs from the iTunes service on short notice if the two sides did not agree on pricing or other terms.

On August 9, 2007, UMG announced a plan to sell some songs in MP3 format, without Digital rights management, through a variety of online services such as Amazon MP3 and the newly created gBox. While these tracks continue to be available through the iTunes Store, Universal chose to license these songs in DRM-free formats only through other services.[96]

NBC Universal TV series

On August 31, 2007, Apple announced that programs on NBC's 2007-08 television schedule would not be available on iTunes.[97] NBC had informed Apple the previous day that it would not be renewing its contract.[98] It was later clarified that this change only applied to series produced by NBC Universal-owned Universal Media Studios, including Universal-produced shows on other networks such as House. NBC programs produced by other studios, such as Chuck (Warner Bros.) and Journeyman (20th Century Fox), would remain available on iTunes.[99]

Apple has publicly asserted that NBC would only renew their contract if Apple agreed to a price increase of US$4.99 per episode, which they did not. NBC disputes that claim, claiming that Apple balked at NBC's request to package shows together and make wholesale pricing more flexible.[100] NBC claims that they never asked to double the wholesale price and insisted that their shows would be sold by the iTunes Store through early December.[101] Other networks who sell their shows via iTunes did not follow suit, as some predicted would happen. On December 1, 2007 NBC shows were pulled from iTunes.

On September 9, 2008, Apple and NBC Universal announced that NBC's TV shows were once again available on the US iTunes Store.

The UK iTunes Store has many shows from NBC available, though they are distributed by Universal Studios. The pricing for these seasons are higher than what they were on the US store, an example being, Season 3 of The Office is priced at UK£43.47 (roughly US$72) vs. $52.99 (US Store HD).

See also

Notes and references

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