iTunes logoOn 28th April 2003 Apple opened the virtual doors of the iTunes music Store.

The iTunes brand had been around since 2001 as a software tool to copy your own music to your iPod, but Apple undoubtedly changed the music world with the launch of the Store.

Initially only available in the USA and for Mac OSX, Apple quickly announced the Windows version of the Store in October 2003. From the outset the Apple iTunes Store has been the largest music vendor in the USA. In mid 2004 the Store started to roll out to a number of other countries, include the UK. By February 2010 it had reached the accolade of the worlds largest music vendor, offering some 26 million tracks. Also available are electronic books, videos, apps and magazine. iTunes Store is currently available in 119 countries.

The Apple iTunes store has had many critics over the years and has overcome many obstacles and adapted to the changes in consumer demands.

The largest hurdle for Apple was convincing the Music industry to allow it to sell electronic versions of the songs. In 2003 CD sales were slipping and Apple saw a gap in the market. Beyond the simple task of persuading the industry of its vision there was also the pricing model. Apple wanted, no insisted, that all tracks could be sold individual and at the same price. Many artists refused to sell on-line as they felt their album needed to be heard in its entirety. Of course they almost all came back a few years later when the iTunes Store phenomenon kicked in.

Apple has not always been the pioneer it thinks it is -- in some cases, especially in the early days, it was almost draconian. Today we see a more mature product. One with various pricing mobiles including Album Only; most music is also now sold without DRM copy protection; encoding quality has been increased too.

There are very few serious competitors to Apple iTunes store. Google only entered the online media world with Google Music in November 2011 and is available in a mere 13 countries.

Ten years on consumer needs are changing. There is a growing appetite for song rental rather than ownership with the rise of services like Spotify. We also use more web-based streaming services rather than proprietary software to consume media. Apple needs to adapt to changing needs and not be complacent.

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