As expected, Apple Computer Inc. today (Oct. 16) launched the long-awaited Windows-compatible version of its iTunes online music service, promising a wider library of songs and new features to maintain its lead in an increasingly competitive market.
“This isn’t some baby version of iTunes. It’s the whole thing,” Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a presentation in which he demonstrated the new software and service.
Apple’s online music service will feature over 400,000 tracks by the end of the month. The Macintosh version of the download service has sold more than 13 million songs since launch about six months ago, Jobs said. Citing data from Nielsen SoundScan, Jobs said as of last week iTunes had accounted for about 70 percent of all legal downloads. “This has been the birth of legal downloading,” he said.
The new version of iTunes will offer a library of some 5,000 audio books and allow parents to set a monthly allowance of up to $200 for children to download songs, an attempt to cut back on the illicit file-swapping that the record industry has challenged in court.
With the Windows version, Apple is looking to bring iTunes to a far wider audience: the 90%-plus of personal computers that use Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. Today’s launch also means that Apple will be ready for the crucial holiday shopping season.
Apple Chief Financial Officer Fred Anderson has said that the Windows launch of iTunes would be a Trojan horse for the company, spurring more sales of its popular iPod digital music players, which have also been popular with Windows users.
Apple said yesterday that it had shipped 336,000 iPod units in the September-ended quarter, a rise of 140% from the year earlier.
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