Today in Apple history: iTunes sales hit astonishing new heights


iTunes coming to Windows proved a smart move for Apple.
Photo: Apple

November 6: Today in Apple history: After porting iTunes to Windows, iTunes sales hit 1.5 million downloads in one week November 6, 2003: After porting iTunes to Windows, Apple sets a new record for digital music sales: a massive 1.5 million downloads in one week.

Bringing iTunes to PC users opens up a new, lucrative market for Apple. The record-breaking sales clock in at five times more than the 300,000 downloads that file-sharing service Napster (remember it?) achieved in its debut week. And 1.5 million is double the 600,000 iTunes downloads per week Apple reported selling to Mac users prior to the Windows release.

Bringing iTunes to Windows boosts digital music sales

The iTunes Music Store arrived on Windows a full six months after launching on Mac. One reason for the delay? Apple CEO Steve Jobs was reluctant to end the exclusivity of iTunes.

He told his lieutenants at the time — Phil Schiller, Jon Rubinstein, Jeff Robbin and Tony Fadell — that both iTunes and the iPod music player boosted Mac sales. The other execs countered this argument by pointing out that declining Mac sales could never outweigh the gain from increased iPod sales. They eventually convinced Jobs.

As a result of this clash of ideas, the first week of iTunes on Windows likely proved a bit tense for Apple’s top brass. In the end, however, it marked a major milestone in the continued success of iTunes.

Later on, Jobs quipped that giving Windows users access to such a beautiful Mac app was a bit like “giving a glass of ice water to somebody in hell.”

Major growth for iTunes

In 2003, Apple’s music service was growing at an astonishing rate. By August 2004, the iTunes Music Store catalog reached 1 million songs in the United States, a first for an online music service. And it racked up more than 100 million song downloads.

Do you remember the first song you ever downloaded on iTunes? Let us know in the comments below.


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