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iTunes Store

What is Store

The iTunes Store is a software-based online digital media store operated by Apple. Opening as the iTunes Music Store on April 28, 2003, with over 200,000 items to purchase, it is, as of April 2008, the number-one music vendor in the United States.On February 24, 2010, the store served its 10 billionth song download; this milestone was reached in just under seven years of being online.

While most downloaded files previously included restrictions on their use, enforced by FairPlay, Apple’s implementation of digital rights management, iTunes 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 the entire music catalog in the U.S. Full iTunes Plus availability was achieved on April 7, 2009 in the U.S., coinciding with the introduction of a three-tiered pricing model;however, television shows and movies are still FairPlay-protected.

Since the introduction of the iTunes Store, individual songs were all sold for the same price with no subscription fee (in contrast to most existing online music stores at the time of introduction, which charged a monthly fee for access to their catalog). Music in the store is in the Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) format, which is the MPEG-4-specified successor to MP3. Songs with DRM are encoded at 128 kbit/s. As of the January 2009 Macworld Expo, Apple has announced that all music in iTunes will be 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. Previews, ninety seconds in length, are available free, prior to buying a song. iTunes had the option between fully loading previews before playing, or simply streaming the preview; the former feature was removed with the release of iTunes 8.

Feature length movies and television episodes are available for purchase. Movies tend to be priced below a DVD of the same film while television episodes are approximately double the cost of a song.

Finally, some games are available for some models of iPods for various prices, but none as expensive as a feature length film. In addition, the iTunes Store now offers Apps, which are applications used for various purposes (games, maps, movie showtimes, etc.) that are compatible with the iPod Touch and iPhone, although some Apps are specifically for the iPhone only. Some Apps cost money (called “Paid Apps”) and some are free (called “Free Apps”). Developers can decide which price they want for apps. 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, Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced iTunes movie rentals. Movies are available for rent in the iTunes Store on the same day they are released on DVD.They are only viewable for 24 hours after users begin viewing them. This feature is not yet available in all countries but it is available in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

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