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This past Sunday Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of the iTunes Music Store
This past Sunday Apple celebrated the 10th anniversary of the iTunes Music Store, which changed the music industry forever. Launched in an era rife with piracy, the iTunes Music Store showed record labels that, if access to music was easy and affordable, consumers would be more inclined to pay for it than resort to popular file-sharing services. Now called the iTunes Store, Apple's digital marketplace is now a home for not just music, but movies, television shows, and of course, mobile apps. But it underwent a lot of changes to get to this point.
Originally launched in January 2001, the original iTunes app was nothing more than a standard music player for the Mac. It let users import CDs, create playlists, create custom CDs, and, of course, organize and listen to music. Comically, the original press release for the first iteration of iTunes noted that the software was capable of downloading songs "to popular MP3 players from Rio and Creative Labs."
The second iteration of iTunes, introduced on Oct. 23, 2001, introduced MP3 CD burning, along with equalizer and cross-fading functionality. The biggest feature of iTunes 2, however, was being the first version to support the then newly released iPod.
Released in the summer of 2002, iTunes 3 introduced Smart Playlists into the mix, along with Sound Check functionality for consistent volume playback. iTunes 3 also saw the inclusion of support for audiobook programming.
The release of iTunes 4 on April 28, 2003 forever changed the landscape of the music industry. ITunes 4 featured integration of the iTunes Music store, where users could now, for the first time, easily download individual songs for just 99 cents apiece. Of course, songs purchased via iTunes at the time were wrapped in Apple's FairPlay DRM. When it first launched, the iTunes Music Store featured more than 200,000 songs.
iTunes 4 for Windows
Though not deserving of its own numbered release, the release of iTunes 4 for Windows on Oct. 16, 2003 was a monumental strategy move from Apple. With the iTunes Music Store now accessible on Windows-based machines, Apple opened up the iPod market in a huge way. While iTunes on Windows wasn't exactly the smoothest software, it played an integral role in the domination of the iPod worldwide. By the time iTunes for Windows launched, the iTunes Music Store boasted nearly 400,000 individual tracks.
iTunes 4.5 and iTunes 4.9
With the release of iTunes 4.5, Apple added its "Party Shuffle" feature, which would later be renamed iTunes DJ. The release of iTunes 4.9 is rather significant as it was the beginning of iTunes support for podcasts. Upon release on June 28, 2005, there were over 3,000 podcasts available for subscription.
Introduced on Sept. 7, 2005, the fifth iteration of iTunes introduced a new search bar, smart shuffle, and the ability to organize playlists into folders. iTunes 5 also saw an update to the iTunes Music Store wherein Apple added parental controls and album reviews. Aesthetically, iTunes 5 boasted the end of the brushed metal look.
ITunes 6 came just one month after iTunes 5 was released. This was a significant release as it brought gift options, TV shows and music videos. Upon release, the iTunes Store featured 2,000 music videos, five TV shows, and Pixar Short Films. ITunes 6 marked the first time primetime shows were available for purchase online the day after originally airing.
On Sept. 12, 2006, Apple released iTunes 7, which added features such as Cover Flow (now since removed) and the inclusion of 75 movies for download. New releases were initially priced at $12.99, while the number of TV shows available expanded to 220.
Two years later, Apple finally updated iTunes to Version 8.0. This release of iTunes showcased the inclusion of Genius playlists and the addition of HD Television Shows to the iTunes Store. Upon launch, iTunes boasted over 30,000 individual TV episodes and 2,500 films. ITunes 8 also marked the return of NBC television content to iTunes.
Apple introduced iTunes 9 on a conveniently promotional date - Sept. 9, 2009. The update introduced such features as iTunes LP and Home Sharing, which let users transfer media content to as many as five authorized computers in their household. ITunes LP was Apple's effort to offer interactive albums that were chock full of exclusive content such as artist interviews, bonus tracks, and behind-the-scenes video. ITunes 9 also introduced Genius Mixes.
Released in September 2010, iTunes 10 saw a new iTunes icon along with Apple's ill-fated foray into music-based social networking with Ping. ITunes 10 also featured HDTV show rentals for just 99 cents, as well as Airplay wireless music playback. By the time iTunes 10 was available for download, it was sporting over 160 million users in 23 countries. ITunes 10 also saw the introduction of iTunes Match, while, aesthetically, the update did away with the colored icons on the sidebar.
Apple this past November released iTunes 11, an update that introduced a complete redesign to the user interface on iTunes. ITunes 11 also added the ability to play purchased content from the cloud while also enhancing search functionality and adding a new MiniPlayer. It's also worth noting that iTunes 11 reintroduced the colored icons that were removed in iTunes 10.