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Apple celebrates 5 years of iTunes Store, 10 million song catalog

Apple on Monday took pause in a section of its iTunes Store to celebrate half a decade of the digital download service that brought mainstream acceptance to the market for paid digital downloads.

"This is where it all began. Launching on April 28, 2003, the iTunes Music Store offered an easy way to download the music you love for $0.99 a song with no subscription fees," Apple wrote in a note to iTunes shoppers. "We had more than 200,000 songs and a handful of exclusive tracks."

Since then, the service has gone on to become the No. 1 retailer of music in the United States with a music catalog of more than 10 million songs (announced today, up from 6 million), in addition to over 20,000 audiobooks, 10,000 music videos, 350 television shows, and 1000 feature films.

Shoppers on the iTunes Store Monday were greeted with a sign paying homage to the service on its fifth birthday, and directing them to a new section of the store "offering a look back at all the great music, video, and exclusives you first discovered on iTunes, highlighting the songs and shows that defined each year."

During a recent conference call covering second fiscal quarter results, members of Apple's leadership said the iTunes Store is growing to comprise an increasingly larger portion of the company's business each quarter.

The store maintains a customer base of over 50 million, management said, and continues to dominate the US market for paid digital music downloads with an over 85 percent share, according to Nielsen SoundScan.