Nearly a decade after Apple Inc. launched its iTunes music store, the company surpassed 25 billion songs sold.

The online store, which has expanded its offerings in recent years to include digital books, games, applications, magazines, movies and TV shows, continues to be a dominant distribution channel for music, accounting for 69% of digital music sales in the U.S. last year, according to estimates from the NPD Group. For all retail sales, including physical formats such as CDs and vinyl, iTunes has a 29% share, outselling retail giants such as Walmart and Target.

For Apple, iTunes has become a significant source of revenue. The iTunes business, which also includes sales of Apple Care warranty and other services, generated just under $3.7 billion in revenue in the quarter ended Dec. 29, up 22% from the same period a year earlier. Those figures represent just Apple’s 30% cut of sales, not the larger gross sales that flow through the online store.

“We are grateful to our users whose passion for music over the past 10 years has made iTunes the number one music retailer in the world,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior VP of Internet Software and Services, who noted that iTunes now averages more than 15,000 songs downloaded per minute.

That’s 21.6 million songs a day. In other words, iTunes currently sells more songs in 12 hours than the store did during its first five months of existence.
Since its launch in April 2011, iTunes has enjoyed rapid growth alongside Apple’s other game-changing product, the iPod music player. Five years later, in 2008, Apple surpassed Walmart as the nation’s largest music retailer.

Its catalog of 26 million tunes includes major and independent label titles, as well as songs from artists who self-publish through TuneCore or other digital distribution services. Among Apple’s most valuable assets is its database of 435 million active accounts, many of which are attached to credit card information that allow users to make purchases without having to enter payment information.

To celebrate the milestone, Apple gave Phillip Lupke, the person who purchased the 25 billionth song, a 10,000 Euro iTunes gift card. Lupke had bought “Monkey Drums” (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch.

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