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iTunes cracks top 10 US music retailer list

Apple Computer's iTunes unit sales have surpassed that of major US music retailers Tower Records, Sam Goody and Borders, propelling the iTunes Music Store into the top 10 list of leading music retailers for the first time, according to a report from NPD Group.

For the third quarter of 2005 Apple ranked seventh on the list of leading US Music retailers, up from the fourteenth spot a year ago.

Based on the number of songs sold, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Amazon.com remained the top-four music retailers in the U.S., respectively. Trans World Entertainment's FYE and Circuit City also ranked ahead of Apple, ranking fifth and sixth, according to the report.

With the holidays fast approaching, NPD said it expects to see a continued rise in Apple's share of the US retail music market.

"The ongoing and growing popularity of Apple’s iTunes Music Store now positions the company as a leading music retailer, and continues to legitimize legal digital music retailing," said Russ Crupnick, music and movies industry analyst for The NPD Group. "With the growing interest in digital music, forecasts of more iPod demand this holiday, plus the stocking-stuffer appeal of iTunes gift cards, we can expect Apple to increase its share even more by year’s end."

To date, shoppers at Apple's iTunes Music Store have purchased and downloaded well over 600 million tunes.