|Opened April 28, 2003; 13 years ago (2003-04-28)|
Pricing model Free streaming available on any device
Platforms macOS, iOS, Windows, tvOS
Format Unprotected AAC (.m4a) @ 256 kbit/s (music), protected AAC (.m4p) @ 32, 64 and 128 kbit/s (audiobooks), unprotected MPEG-4 Video (.m4v) (music videos), protected MPEG-4 Video (.m4v) (other video)
Restrictions (Protected) Music: streaming to five computers every 24 hours, unlimited CDs (seven with an unchanged playlist), unlimited iPods and iPhones.
Catalogue 37,000,000+ songs worldwide, 1,000,000+ podcasts (US), 40,000+ music videos (US), 3,000+ TV shows (US), 20,000+ audiobooks (US), 45,000+ movies (US), 1,000,000+ App Store apps
Albums Tha Carter III, In Between Dreams, Into the Wild, Hospice, Man on Fire
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iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple Inc. It opened on April 28, 2003, and has been the largest music vendor in the United States since April 2008, and the largest music vendor in the world since February 2010. It offers over 35 - 40 million songs, 2.2 million apps, 25,000 TV shows, and 65,000 films as of January, 2017. iTunes Store's revenues in the first quarter of 2011 totaled nearly US$1.4 billion; by May 28, 2014, the store had sold 35 billion songs worldwide.
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- Current model
- iTunes Store for iOS
- Customer support
- Charitable donations
- Partial Albums
- Store Sections
- Reception and commercial success
- Music aggregators
- Market share
- Payment options
- File formats
- Digital rights management
- Movement against DRM
- Other platforms
- Technical details
- Apple records
- The Consumer Council of Norway EULA challenge
- EU anti trust case
- Universal Music Group
- NBC Universal TV series
While most downloaded files initially included usage restrictions enforced by FairPlay, Apple's implementation of digital rights management (DRM), iTunes later initiated a shift into selling DRM-free music in most countries, marketed as iTunes Plus. On January 6, 2009, Apple announced that DRM had been removed from 80% of its music catalog in the US. Full iTunes Plus availability was achieved in the US on April 7, 2009, coinciding with the introduction of a three-tiered pricing model; however, television episodes, many books, and films are still FairPlay-protected. As of June 2013, iTunes Store possesses 575 million active user accounts, and serves over 315 million mobile devices, including Apple Watches, iPods, iPhones, Apple TV and iPads.
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Before iTunes Store, most of the online music was download through websites like Napster. Steve Jobs expressed concern that people were illegally obtaining music because it was the only option they had. In 2002, Steve Jobs made an agreement with the five major record labels to offer their content through iTunes. iTunes Store was introduced by Steve Jobs at a Worldwide Developer's Conference to give music listeners a legal alternative to peer-to-peer file sharing networks. When it opened, it was the only legal digital catalog of music to offer songs from all five major record labels. At first, it was only available on Mac OS X and the iPod.
Following the introduction of iTunes Store, individual songs were all sold for the same price, though Apple introduced multiple prices in 2007. Music in the store is in the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, which is the MPEG-4-specified successor to MP3. Originally, songs were only available with DRM and were encoded at 128 kbit/s. At the January 2009 Macworld Expo, Apple announced that all iTunes music would be made available without DRM, and encoded at the higher-quality rate of 256 kbit/s. Previously, this model, known as "iTunes Plus", had been available only for music from EMI and some independent labels. Users can sample songs by listening to previews, ninety seconds in length, or thirty seconds for short tracks.
In addition, iTunes Store offers apps, which are applications used for various purposes (games, productivity, news, etc.) that are compatible with the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad, although some apps are specifically for the iPhone or iPad only. Some Apps cost money (called "Paid Apps") and some are free (called "Free Apps"). Developers can decide which prices they want to charge for apps, from a pre-set list of pricing tiers, from free to several hundred dollars. When someone downloads an App, 70 percent of the purchase goes to the developer(s), and 30 percent goes to Apple.
At the Macworld 2008 keynote, Steve Jobs, who was Apple's CEO at the time, announced iTunes movie rentals. Movies are available for rent in iTunes Store on the same day they are released on DVD, though iTunes Store also offers for rental some movies that are still in theaters. Movie rentals are only viewable for 24 hours (in the US) or 48 hours (in other countries) after users begin viewing them. iTunes Store also offers one low-priced movie rental a week: in the United States, this rental costs 99 cents. Movie rentals are not yet available in all countries but it is available in the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
There is a weekly promotion in which one to three songs are available to download for free to logged-in users. Free downloads are available on Tuesdays, and remain free until the following Tuesday, when the store gets refreshed with new content. Some artists choose to have select songs available for no charge. This is not available at all iTunes Stores. Some iTunes television programs have begun the same technique to encourage brand loyalty; although those stay longer. In fact, iTunes Store has a "Free TV Episodes" page where free episodes are organized by length, either as "featurettes" (shorter than 15 minutes) or full length episodes (longer than 15 minutes). Free content can vary from a preview of a show to bonus content to pilot episodes and entire seasons of TV shows (examples of free seasons include HBO's The Weight of the Nation and ABC's Pan-Am). Some networks, such as ABC and NBC, have their own pages of "Free Season Premieres".
While previously the US iTunes Store has offered as many as three free songs each week (the single of the week, Discovery Download, and Canción de la Semana) in recent years, the store has instead replaced the three aforementioned categories with a unified "Single of the Week" banner, with the week's single being from a new up and coming artist. In 2015, Apple discontinued the "Single of the Week" program.
The price is determined by the developer. The price can either be free or cost an amount of dollars and 99 cents.
iTunes Store for iOS
iTunes Store allows users to purchase and download items directly to portable Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and iPod Touch. Apple offers three apps, each of which provides access to certain types of content.
Other, free content available from iTunes Store can be accessed from two other iOS apps:
Originally, mobile users had to be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to enter the store, hence its original name: iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. However, at Macworld 2009, Apple issued a software update which automatically allowed 3G and EDGE users to access the store's full functionality for files smaller than 10 megabytes (MB). The iOS 3.0 update added the ability to download movies, TV shows, audiobooks, iTunes U, and ringtones on mobile devices, in addition to the previously available songs and podcasts. On February 18, 2010, Apple increased the 10 MB 3G download limit to 20 MB. In March 2012, Apple increased the 3G download limit to 50 MB, and, in late 2013, Apple increased the limit to 100 MB when they released the final version of iOS 7 for their new iPhones.
In the United States, Apple provides technical support for iTunes Store via email, there is no phone number for issues with iTunes purchases. Most customer service inquiries are handled online, via the Report a Problem link in iTunes.
In response to major natural disasters, Apple provides the facility for donations to be made through iTunes Store. Unlike other iTunes purchases, donations made to charitable organisations through this system are not subject to the 30% handling fee Apple usually charges. iTunes donation pages were set up following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2011 Japanese earthquake and ensuing tsunami, and 2012's Hurricane Sandy. In all of these cases, donations were redirected to the Red Cross.
The store began operations after Apple signed deals with five major record labels: EMI, Universal, Warner, Sony Music Entertainment, and BMG. Songs from more than 2,000 independent labels were added later, the first being from The Orchard on June 24, 2003.
As of 2014, iTunes Store offers more than 37 million songs, including exclusive tracks from numerous artists. Not all artists are available on iTunes, but many holdouts, such as Led Zeppelin and Radiohead, have allowed their music to be sold on iTunes Store in recent years. New songs are added to iTunes catalog on a daily basis, and iTunes Store is updated each Tuesday.
Downloaded songs come with song information (name, artist, album) already filled out, though iTunes provides a free service by Gracenote to do this for songs not purchased from the store, although they must be imported with iTunes. Songs that have an entry in iTunes Store also come with album artwork (Artwork is embedded in the metadata). Artwork can be obtained for songs not purchased from the store for free if the user has an iTunes Store account. Purchased songs do not come with lyrics, nor does iTunes provide a service for acquiring the missing lyrics. However, several third-party applications exist to locate and automatically add lyrics to the user's music.
"Album Only" songs
Some songs are available from the store by "Album Only", meaning the song can only be acquired through the purchase of the entire album, whereas most songs can be downloaded separately from the album they belong to.
Songs above 10 minutes in length are by default Album Only songs. However, this is not universally true; for example, Living in the Heart of the Beast by Henry Cow is 16 minutes and 18 seconds, yet is available for individual purchase as of December 24, 2013.
Soundtracks also often have many Album Only tracks.
Sometimes, the 10-minute restriction works in an artist's favor. Examples of this include Prince's Lovesexy and the deluxe version of Phoenix's Bankrupt!, which both have an album as a single track instead of being separate, (in Prince's case, the track was the album, while in Phoenix's case, it was a collection of demos and outtakes) forcing the buyer to buy the album itself.
Movie soundtracks normally include songs owned by many different labels, making licensing more complex. For example, Forrest Gump: The Soundtrack includes songs from Peacock Records, Argo Records & Capitol Records, among many others. Greatest Hits by Red Hot Chili Peppers has only one song, "Higher Ground", that is not available for download on a per song basis, whilst Circus (Britney Spears' 2008 album) has two songs that are available for album download only, Rock Me In and Phonography.
Some albums area available from the store by "Partial Album", meaning that albums cannot be entirely purchased, but that one or more of the tracks that can be purchased on the physical CD version of them aren't included, e.g. possible due to licensing issues.
"Work Only" songs
Some tracks are listed as "Work Only", which means they can only be obtained by purchasing the entire piece of work (within the album); the tracks cannot be bought as singles. Works are generally pieces of classical music: symphonies, string quartets, etc., in multiple movements.
When entering the US music store, there are multiple sections one can visit. Music is divided into genres (Alternative, Classical, Jazz, Soundtrack, etc.), and there are a number of links to other sections of the store under the Quick Links header. These include Recommended for You, Complete My Album, iTunes LP, as well as thematic sections, such as iTunes Festival sections.
On November 1, 2006, Apple created a category for Latino and Hispanic content, "iTunes Latino". Telemundo and Mun2 made some of their popular programs available for purchase, becoming the first Hispanic television content in the store. It offers music, music videos, audiobooks, podcasts and television shows in Spanish in a single concentrated area. The brief descriptions given to the content are in Spanish as well as several subcategories. Gibraltarian Flamenco Metal band Breed 77, released an exclusive album called Un Encuentro to coincide with the launch of "iTunes Latino". It features 11 songs, all from previous albums, but all sung in Spanish.
There is a policy of censoring profanity in titles on iTunes. This has resulted in a Scunthorpe glitch, by which inoffensive titles are censored due to a coincidental string of letters. If the song has an explicit label, it will be marked "explicit" next to the song title. If a song is marked "explicit" it is unavailable for purchase if "restrict explicit content" is checked under the parental controls preference. Often there will be a "clean" mark next to the title of some songs, meaning the lyrics have been censored, and is available to purchase on all accounts. Generally if a song is marked "clean" there is an explicit version available as well.
Reception and commercial success
Since its launch, iTunes Store has crossed many milestones. In the first 18 hours, the store sold about 275,000 tracks, and more than 1 million tracks were sold in its first 5 days. When released for Windows in October 2003, iTunes was downloaded more than 1 million times in the first 3 days, selling more than 1 million songs in that period. On December 15, 2003, Apple announced that it had sold 25 million songs.
In January 2004 at the Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs announced (Sellers, 2004) that an unnamed person had purchased US$29,500 worth of music. On March 15, 2004, Apple announced that iTunes Music Store customers had purchased and downloaded 50 million songs from iTunes Music Store. A song sold on iTunes gives the artist 9 cents in profit. They also reported that customers were purchasing 2.5 million songs a week which translates to a projected annual run rate of 130 million songs a year. The 50 millionth song was "The Path of Thorns" by Sarah McLachlan.
On April 28, 2004, iTunes Music Store marked its first anniversary with 70 million songs sold, clear dominance in the paid online music market and a slight profit. The store also offers hundreds of movie trailers and music videos, in an attempt to boost soundtrack sales. In the conference, Steve Jobs reiterated that a subscription service is still not in the interest of customers and reported that only 5 million of the 100 million songs offered in the Pepsi giveaway campaign were redeemed, which he blamed on technical problems in Pepsi distribution. According to an Apple press release dated August 10, 2004, iTunes Music Store was the first store to have a catalog of more than one million songs. Also, iTunes Music Store at that point maintained a 70 percent market share of legal music downloads.
The emerging monopoly of the store has been criticized by Mike Lang of Miramax for "effectively strangling the industry". He says that because the music industry has allowed too few content providers, it is now suffering. Lang views the issue as being more of a threat than music piracy.
Aggregators (in reference to iTunes) are digital distribution companies capable of delivering digital content to iTunes Store. iTunes Store subsequently has four divisions of content: Music, Video, eBooks, and Apps. Each type of content is delivered in a separate way.
On July 5, 2005, Apple announced a promotion counting down to half a billion songs sold.
Originally only Mac OS X users who had credit cards with a US billing address could buy songs with the service, but Steve Jobs announced plans to support both Windows and non-American users. The Windows version of iTunes and support for the Windows platform from iTunes Music Store were announced on October 16, 2003, with immediate availability. Beginning in 2004, the service has become available in a number of countries other than the United States:
To buy files through the store, a user must install the proprietary digital media player iTunes to access the store. This software is available only for certain versions of the Macintosh or Windows operating systems.
A user must also pay with an iTunes gift card or a credit card with a billing address in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, the Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom, the United States or Vietnam. Apple also offers other payment methods (like Paypal), which differ from country to country. Residents in other countries can only buy a gift card from a merchant or download free podcasts and previews.
Originally, songs were encoded using FairPlay-encrypted 128 kbit/s AAC streams in an mp4 wrapper, using the .m4p extension. While licenses to the AAC compression and the mp4 file format are readily available, Apple generally has not licensed its proprietary FairPlay encryption scheme to other mobile device manufacturers, so only devices from Apple are able to play the FairPlay-encrypted songs sold at iTunes Store. The only exceptions were three mobile phones sold by Motorola in the years 2005–6: the Motorola ROKR E1, the Motorola RAZR V3i, and the Motorola SLVR L7.
Apple offers digital booklets with some albums in PDF format. These can be viewed in iTunes, or, on iOS, can be added to the iBooks app and viewed there.
From May 29, 2007, tracks on the EMI label were made available in a DRM-less format called iTunes Plus. These files are unprotected and are encoded in the AAC format at 256 kbit/s, twice the bitrate of standard tracks bought through the service. They are labelled as "purchased AAC audio file" (.m4a) rather than "protected AAC audio file" (.m4p) in iTunes.
In January 2009, Apple announced that all music would be available in iTunes Plus format, bringing an end to the sale of music with DRM on iTunes. In April 2009, the sale of protected music ended in western versions of the store, making all music in iTunes Store "iTunes Plus." iTunes Store users may choose to "upgrade" any of their downloaded iTunes music to iTunes Plus if they wish, but most songs require payment to do so. FairPlay DRM-protected music was still available in the Japanese iTunes store, up until February 22, 2012, when they upgraded to iTunes Plus model.
In September 2009, Apple introduced the iTunes LP format (known pre-launch by the code name "Cocktail") which features visual, interactive content alongside album tracks and lyrics.
Digital rights management
Apple's FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) is integrated into iTunes, which manages songs purchased in the m4p file format from iTunes Store before January 2009. iTunes relies on FairPlay to implement three main restrictions:
There are no restrictions on number of iPods to which a purchased song can be transferred nor the number of times any individual song can be burned to CD.
When Apple initially introduced FairPlay, songs purchased through iTunes had limits of three simultaneous machines and ten CD copies of a playlist. The adjustment to the current limits was implemented with the introduction of iTunes 4.5 in April 2004, presumably as the result of re-negotiations Apple had with major labels.
Apple's DRM technology is breakable. Various programs have been written to remove the FairPlay wrapper and allow the AAC files to be used without technological restriction. More simply, a user can convert protected files to an unprotected format by using iTunes to burn them to an audio CD and ripping the CD back to iTunes. If the CD is ripped back to iTunes in a lossy format, some audio quality will be lost in this transcoding. An alternative way of transcoding the files is to record the "Wave Out Mix" using an audio recording program (such as Audacity or Audio Hijack Pro) while playing the song on iTunes—and then encoding it to a format of the user's choice.
Competitors accused Apple of using the iPod, iTunes Store, and FairPlay to establish a vertical monopoly and a lock-in for iPod users to use iTunes Store exclusively (and vice versa). This "lock" had two aspects:
In July 2004, RealNetworks debuted an application named Harmony, which converted files purchased from RealNetworks' RealRhapsody service into a FairPlay-compatible format that an iPod could play. In response, Apple accused RealNetworks of "adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker to break into the iPod." and released a firmware upgrade that rendered iPods incapable of playing such files. On January 3, 2005, an iTunes Music Store customer sued Apple, alleging the company broke US antitrust laws by freezing out competitors. Ten years later, in December 2014, an eight-member jury unanimously dismissed those claims finding in Apple's favour.
In 2006, a controversy erupted about a French draft law aimed at reinforcing the protection of works of art against "piracy", or illegal copying; some clauses of the law could possibly be used to request Apple to provide information about its FairPlay system to manufacturers of competing players. Apple and associated lobbying groups protested the draft law, going as far as to suggest that it condoned "state-sponsored piracy."
Movement against DRM
On February 6, 2007, Steve Jobs called on the Big Four record labels to allow their music to be sold DRM-free. This approach was advocated by the Open Music Model as being revenue maximizing. On April 2, 2007, Apple and the record label EMI announced that iTunes Store would begin offering, as an additional purchasing option, tracks from EMI's catalog encoded as 256 kbit/s AAC without FairPlay or any other DRM.
On May 29, 2007, Apple released version 7.2 of its iTunes software, allowing users to purchase DRM-free music and music videos from participating labels. These new files, available through iTunes Store, have been called iTunes Plus music by Apple. iTunes Plus content was offered at a higher price than the DRM-protected versions of the same content.
In October 2007, iTunes Plus became automatic instead of optional for all iTunes Plus licensed content. In addition, the price of iTunes Plus reverted to the lower DRM price.
Almost immediately after the launch of iTunes Plus, reports surfaced that the DRM-free tracks sold by iTunes Store contained identifying information about the customer, embedding the purchasing account's full name and e-mail address as metadata in the file. This information has always been in iTunes downloads both with and without FairPlay DRM.. Privacy groups expressed concerns that this data could be misused if possessions carrying the files were stolen, and potentially wrongly incriminate a user for copyright infringement.
On January 6, 2009 at the Macworld Expo, Apple announced a significant overhaul of iTunes Plus catalog with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI offering all their music in iTunes Plus immediately. As of the announcement, 8 million songs were available in Apple's DRM-free format. As of April 2009, all songs became available in iTunes Plus format, except from the Japanese iTunes Store; the Japanese store would not undergo full conversion until February 22, 2012.
On Super Bowl Sunday, February 1, 2004, Apple launched a promotion with Pepsi in which they gave away 100 million songs, through tokens on selected soft drink bottle caps. Unfortunately for Apple, Pepsi failed to properly distribute the bottles to major metropolitan areas until only weeks before the promotion ended, despite a one-month extension of the deadline by Apple. The promotion was repeated beginning January 31, 2005, with 200 million songs available, and an iPod Mini given away every hour.
On July 1, 2004, Apple announced that, starting with the sale of the 95 millionth song, an iPod would be given away to the buyer of each 100 thousandth song, for a total of 50 iPods. The buyer of the 100 millionth song would receive a PowerBook, iPod, and US$10,000 gift certificate to iTunes Music Store.
Ten days later, on July 11, Apple announced that 100 million songs had been sold through iTunes Music Store. The 100 millionth song was titled "Somersault (Dangermouse Remix)" by Zero 7, purchased by Kevin Britten of Hays, Kansas. He then received a phone call from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who offered his congratulations, as well as a 40 GB 3rd Generation iPod laser-engraved with a message of thanks.
Inspired by Pepsi's marketing success with iTunes giveaways, Coca-Cola partnered with 7-Eleven to give away a free iTunes song with every 32 US fl oz (950 ml). Slurpee frozen beverage until July 31, 2005. Songs could be redeemed until August 31, 2005 by entering a code printed on the Slurpee cup into iTunes Music Store application. Coca-Cola did this in spite of having its own music store, myCokeMusic.com, that competed with iTunes Music Store in Europe. myCokeMusic.com ceased business on July 31, 2006.
On July 5, 2005, Apple announced that they were counting down to half a billion songs. The buyer of every 100 thousandth song up to 500 million would receive an iPod Mini and a 50-song gift card. The grand prize for the person who downloads the 500 millionth song was 10 iPods of their choice, a 10,000-song gift card, 10 50-song gift cards or 4 tickets to the Coldplay world tour. Twelve days later, on July 17, Apple announced that 500 million songs had been sold through iTunes Music Store. The 500 millionth song, purchased by Amy Greer of Lafayette, Indiana, was "Mississippi Girl" by Faith Hill.
On July 28, 2005, Apple and The Gap announced a promotion to award iTunes music downloads to Gap customers who tried on a pair of Gap jeans. From August 8 to 31, 2005, each customer who tried on any pair of Gap jeans could receive a free download for a song of their choice from iTunes Music Store.
On February 7, 2006, Apple announced that they were counting down to the billionth song download and began a promotion similar to the previous 100 million and 500 million countdown. Whoever downloaded the billionth song would receive a 20" iMac, ten 60 GB iPods, and a US$10,000 iTunes Music Card. The billionth song was purchased on February 23, 2006 by Alex Ostrovsky of West Bloomfield, Michigan. The purchased song was "Speed of Sound" as part of Coldplay's X&Y album.
On July 25, 2006, Facebook and iTunes began offering a promotion where members of the Apple Students group would receive a free 25 song sampler each week until September 30 in various music genres. The idea behind the promotion was to get students more familiar and enthusiastic with each service as Autumn classes approached. However, in order to prevent abuse of the promotion, the weekly code that Facebook provided stopped working after it was redeemed one million times. In addition, the promotion caused discontent among international students, as the code was only valid in the US iTunes Music Store.
On April 10, 2009, Apple announced that it will be counting down to the billionth app. Apps being the applications for iPod Touch and iPhone. Launching a counter that is constantly running on Good Friday, Apple starting counting down. Connor Mulcahey, age 13 of Weston, CT, downloaded the billionth app, "Bump" by Bump Technologies, and received a 17" Macbook Pro, a 32GB iPod Touch, a Time Capsule, and a $10,000 Gift Card for iTunes Store.
On February 11, 2010 Apple announced that it would be counting down to 10 billion songs downloaded. A$10,000 gift card was offered as a prize. On February 24, 2010, the 10 billionth song, "Guess Things Happen That Way" by Johnny Cash, was purchased by Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, Georgia.
Currently, iTunes is supported on the macOS (Leopard and above) and Microsoft Windows operating systems. iTunes was known to run passably well in Linux on x86-based computers using the Wine compatibility layer; however, by December 2011, this was no longer the case. Users without iTunes installed can see a content database (but not hear or view the content itself) using the iTunes Preview service, which runs inside their internet browser. This service also allows users to watch trailers for upcoming film releases. Should they choose to purchase any media, they will be redirected to iTunes.
Store pages are delivered using standard HTML with a special header. This change was made when iTunes 9.0 was released. iTunes uses WebKit to render these pages on the screen. These pages are also accessible on the Web, at itunes.apple.com, allowing pages from iTunes Store to show up in search engine search results.
Prior to iTunes 9.0, iTunes Store was delivered using a custom XML format that describes the position of all of the elements, boxes, album art and all of their properties – including whether a reference link can be dragged out of iTunes and into another document.
The store's back-end software uses WebObjects – Apple's own application server it acquired from NeXT. Content is uploaded to iTunes data store using an internal Apple program called iTunes Producer, which automatically encodes and adds metadata to uploaded files.
For three years, The Beatles' record company Apple Records were in a legal dispute, Apple Corps v Apple Computer, with Apple Computer over the name "Apple." On May 8, 2006, a ruling was declared in favor of Apple Computer, but Apple Records said it would appeal the ruling. Despite this, plans were announced by Neil Aspinall in April 2006 to remaster completely and release the entire Beatles catalog on an unspecified online music service, as well as release some previously unheard work by the band. No date was set at that time. It has also been reported that the Beatles' music catalog might initially be appearing on iTunes only, as Apple is reported to be negotiating with Britain's EMI group over an online distribution deal that might be exclusive for a limited time.
During his January 9, 2007 Macworld Keynote address, Apple CEO Steve Jobs used the band's song "Lovely Rita" to introduce the music-playing capabilities of the company's new iPhone. This was regarded by industry observers as further evidence that the Beatles catalog would be introduced to iTunes Music Store catalog in the near future. On February 5, 2007, Apple Corps and Apple Inc. announced they had reached a settlement in their legal dispute.
In a related development, Apple announced on August 14, 2007 that the entire solo catalog of John Lennon would be available on iTunes. The solo catalogs of the other three Beatles, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison, are also available on iTunes.
On November 16, 2010, the entire Beatles catalog was officially made available on iTunes Store.
The Consumer Council of Norway EULA challenge
On June 6, 2006, The Consumer Ombudsmen in Norway, Sweden and Denmark launched a common open letter to Apple regarding the EULA of iTunes through the Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman Bjørn Erik Thon. The iTunes case is based upon an official complaint filed by The Consumer Council of Norway on January 25, 2006.
The main allegations were that:
Apple responded July 31, 2006.
On January 22, 2007, German and French consumer groups joined forces with Norway and Finland. Their goal is to create a united European front against iTunes (Germany and France have each had their own negotiation process with iTunes). According to the press statement Apple is in favor of this. The key points in the negotiations were:
EU anti-trust case
In 2004, Which? magazine complained to the European Commission about the higher prices in the UK for the same songs sold in other parts of the European Union: typically 0.99 euro in the rest of the EU and £0.79 in the UK. In 2008, the Commission withdrew its investigation after Apple agreed to end the price disparity.
Universal Music Group
On July 1, 2007, the New York Times reported that Universal (currently the world's largest music corporation) would not renew its annual contract to sell music through iTunes. Instead, Universal said that it would market music to Apple at will, allowing it to remove its songs from the iTunes service on short notice if the two sides did not agree on pricing or other terms.
On August 9, 2007, UMG announced a plan to sell some songs in MP3 format, without Digital rights management, through a variety of online services such as Amazon Music and the newly created gBox. While these tracks continue to be available through iTunes Store, Universal chose to license these songs in DRM-free formats only through other services.
NBC Universal TV series
On August 31, 2007, Apple announced that programs on NBC's 2007–08 television schedule would not be available on iTunes. NBC had informed Apple the previous day that it would not be renewing its contract. It was later clarified that this change only applied to series produced by NBC Universal-owned Universal Media Studios, including Universal-produced shows on other networks such as House. NBC programs produced by other studios, such as Chuck (Warner Bros.) and Journeyman (20th Century Fox), would remain available on iTunes.
Apple has publicly asserted that NBC would only renew their contract if Apple agreed to a price increase of US$4.99 per episode, which they did not. NBC disputes that claim, claiming that Apple balked at NBC's request to package shows together and make wholesale pricing more flexible. NBC claims that they never asked to double the wholesale price and insisted that their shows would be sold by iTunes Store through early December. Other networks who sell their shows via iTunes did not follow suit. On December 1, 2007, NBC shows were pulled from iTunes Store.
On September 9, 2008, Apple and NBC Universal announced that NBC's TV shows were once again available on the US iTunes Store.
The UK iTunes Store has many shows from NBC available, although they are distributed by Universal Studios. The pricing for these seasons are higher than they were on the US store, an example being, Season 3 of The Office is priced at UK£43.47 (roughly US$72) vs. $52.99 (US Store HD).