Today in Apple history: iTunes enters top 10 U.S. music retailers


What was your first ever iTunes music download?
Photo: Apple

November 22 Today in Apple historyNovember 22, 2005: Two-and-a-half years after opening its virtual doors, the iTunes Music Store enters the list of top 10 U.S. music retailers.

While Apple still lags behind established retail giants like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Circuit City, as well as fellow tech company Amazon, it nonetheless represents big news for Apple — and digital music sales as a whole.

Apple in the ascendance

The figures came from data analysis firm The NPD Group. It reported that, in the third quarter of 2005, Apple had cracked the United States’ top music retailers. While no exact figures were given, it confirmed that Apple’s iTunes model was very much in the ascendancy.

The list went like this, with the comparative position for 2004 in parenthesis:

1. Wal-Mart (1)
2. Best Buy (2)
3. Target (3)
4. (4)
5. FYE (10)
6. Circuit City (Tied for 5)
7. AppleiTunes (14)
8. Tower Records (Tied for 7)
9. Sam Goody (Tied for 5)
10. Borders (9)

The news was significant as a reminder of how fast Apple had carved out a name for itself in this area in just a few short years.

iTunes’ rise to the top

The iTunes Music Store had only debuted a couple years earlier, on April 28, 2003. At the time, digital music was synonymous with music theft — courtesy of pirate services like Napster which helped make illegal downloads into big business. The fact that iTunes downloads were now as profitable as some of the giants which sold music the old fashioned way came as a big relief for the music industry.

The news didn’t come as a total surprise. It was clear virtually from day one that iTunes was big. By December 15, 2003, Apple celebrated its 25 millionth download. By the following July, Apple sold its 100 millionth song. (Today, Apple has sold north of 40 billion songs.)

However, the music industry loves charts — and seeing iTunes chart in this way was proof positive that Apple was onto a winner. By February 2010, iTunes had continued its rise to become the single largest worldwide music vendor — while some of the stablished giants like the Borders Group (ninth on the list here) ran into problems.

Do you remember your first ever iTunes download? Let us know in the comments below.