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DRM rules adjusted

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Apple undershot its first-year iTunes Music Store download target by 30 million songs, the company said today, 12 months after the digital music business was launched.

CEO Steve Jobs had forecast sales of 100 million songs, but in the end ITMS users acquired only 70 million - still sufficient to put the store at the top of the download service chart.

Indeed, Apple today claimed a 70 per cent market share "for singles and albums", based on its own calculations. Customers are buying 2.7 million songs a week from the store - if they continue to do so, Apple will sell 140 million songs next year. Some 700,000 songs are now available for download.

"iTunes has exceeded our wildest expectations during its first year," Jobs said in statement, the infamous 'reality distortion field' kicking in at this point, presumably.

Apple last quoted a download figure on 15 March, when it said it had sold 50 million songs, up from 25 million as of 15 December 2003. By contrast, the new Napster managed five million downloads in its first four months of operation.

Among the good news, Apple slipped in a little note to the effect that it is tightening its DRM policy, cutting the number of times a playlist can be burned to CD from ten to seven. The move seems unlikely to be much of hindrance to heavyweight music duplicators, leading us to suspect it's more to do with keeping the labels happy. By way of compensation, downloaded music can now be shared among five computers rather than three. ®

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