European iTunes Music Store Hits 200 Million Songs Sold
Apple announced that music fans have purchased and downloaded more than 200 million songs from its European iTunes Music Stores in just over two years, and the iTunes music catalog now includes more than three million songs from major music companies and over 1,000 independent record labels.
Launched in the UK, France and Germany in June 2004, the iTunes Music Store now operates in 17 European countries including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All iTunes Music Stores offer the same innovative features, breakthrough pricing and seamless integration with iPod that have made iTunes the number one online music service in the world.
“The number of songs downloaded and purchased from the iTunes Music Stores in Europe have tripled in the past year from 50 million to 200 million,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes. “We’re thrilled that music fans in Europe have shown such enthusiasm for the artists and exclusive music content found only on iTunes and would like to thank them for making iTunes such a success.”
The milestone comes at a pivotal time for iTunes in Europe. French president Jacques Chirac just signed into law a much-debated measure surrounding digital music interoperability. The issue was to force Apple to open its proprietary iTunes technology. The measure was extremely anti-Apple when it first hit, but got wittled down going through approval stages in both houses of Parliament . In its current state, Apple would be compensated for any forced interoperability move, and the company can also bypass certain interoperability requirements by seeking special approval from content holders involved.
The European battle for Apple is just getting started. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark are set to take on the American concern. Scandinavian regulators have also requested that Apple open up its digital music vertical or face the music.
The Future: Since the iTunes Digital Music “Ecosystem” is the foundation of the iPod success story, Apple will never agree to true interoperability. Apple will delay the measure for as long as it can through the legal process, and then force users to agree to its specific terms, or find their music elsewhere.