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Apple counting down to one billion iTunes

Apple on Tuesday announced the iTunes Music Store Billion Songs Countdown, a thank you offering to its music fans in 21 countries around the globe that have combined to purchase nearly one billion songs from the iTunes Music Store.

As the company marks its way to the one billion, the iTunes shopper who download every 100,000th song will receive a prize package featuring a black 4GB iPod nano and a $100 iTunes Music Card, the company said.

One lucky grand-prize winner who downloads the billionth song from the iTunes Music Store will receive a 20-inch iMac, ten 60GB iPods (5 white/5 black), and a $10,000 iTunes Music Card to jumpstart their digital music collection.

In addition, Apple will also create a full-ride scholarship in the name of the grand-prize winner to a world-renowned music school.

"Just think: You could help launch the careers of an entire generation of musicians," Apple wrote on its Web site. An official set of contets rules was also published.

Apple kicked-off a similar promotion last July in anticipation of the 500 millionth song sold through the iTunes service. The grand-prize winner of that promotion was awarded 10 iPods of their choice to share with family and friends, an iTunes gift card for 10,000 songs and an all-expenses paid trip for four to see Coldplay on their world tour.?