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Apple iTunes popularity to surpass RealPlayer

Apple\'s iTunes is climbing the streaming media charts faster than its competitors and will soon pass Real\'s RealPlayer in unique users.

According to recent data from Nielsen NetRatings and Apple, unique users of Apple\'s iTunes player passed QuickTime in mid-2005, and at its current growth rate should pass RealPlayer by mid-2006.

Already, the popularity of Podcasting has iTunes users tuning in over twice as long with iTunes than with RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. Data shows iTunes users tune in for an average of 111 minutes versus 46.4 minutes per RealPlayer user —2.4 times as long.

Come mid-2006, only Microsoft\'s Windows Media Player will have more unique users than iTunes. At that time it\'s estimated Microsoft\'s player will have about 80 million unique users, while iTunes will have just under 30 million. RealPlayer has remained steady over the last three years with about 28 million unique users.

Meanwhile, in-home broadband usage is also on the uptake, with data from February showing US broadband penetration to be at 68 percent in February 2006. Narrowband users — those on 56Kbps or slower modems —now only comprises 32 percent of active Internet users.

At the current growth rate, broadband penetration among active Internet users in US homes should break 70% by April of 2006.