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Apple touts iTunes customer total

Online userbase second only to Amazon.com's?

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Around 10m people have opened iTunes Music Store accounts, Apple revealed yesterday.

That, CEO Steve Jobs claimed, makes ITMS "one of the largest Internet stores around" - indeed, he added, "iTunes may be the second largest Internet store behind Amazon.com".

Jobs' comments, made at the company's music event yesterday, mark the first time Apple has revealed user numbers. It's often talked about download totals, but never the number of folk paying real money for songs.

Jobs said on average, ITMS customers have bought 60 songs each - "so it's not people signing on, buying two songs and never coming back", he added.

ITMS' customers are together buying 1.8m songs a day. Earlier this week, Apple said the UK incarnation of the store is offering 1.7m songs. Yesterday, Jobs said the US tally was up to 2m tracks, making ITMS US "the largest online music library in world." Incidentally, the company claims an 82 per cent share of the US online music market.

Jobs also announced the release of iTunes 5, which sports a streamlined user interface, parental controls, and support for lyrics stored within songs. He also announced exclusive content, including Madonna's full back catalogue and Harry Potter audiobooks. As we noted yesterday, exclusive content will be a big part of Apple's ITMS marketing going forward, part of its plan to differentiate its service from all the others.

That becomes more important as ITMS becomes more of a revenue generator in its own right and less of a prop for the iPod business. Hence, of course, Jobs' point about ITMS as a broader Internet business and not merely a digital music industry player.

ITMS has a presence in 20 countries, which together account for around 85 per cent of the global music market, Jobs said. ®

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