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iTunes is a digital media player application developed by Apple Mac. It is 10 years old this year (2011) as it was officially launched on January 9th 2001.
iTunes can connect to the iTunes store to purchase and download music, music videos, television shows, movies and ringtones as well as ipod games, audio books and podcasts.
iTunes has dominated the music market for the past decade but now it has competition from various sources.
- Sony has an unlimited music streaming service that was first offered in Europe in 2010. This service has now been brought to Australia and New Zealand and it will also be available in the United States of America as a direct rival to iTunes. Music Unlimited is available at a low cost ranging from $4.99 up to a ceiling of $12,99. The service has over 6 million songs plus streaming SD, HD and 3D movie rentals. The video content will be available on multiple devices with a subscription cost of $3 per month and a 30-day period. Sony Music has joined up with partners Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and EMI Music to offer this service.
- Rhapsody MP3 has a good selection of music and the price is good. Rhapsody offers over 6 million songs in DRM-free format for $0.99 or $1.29 each. Most albums start at $9.99 and may be as much as $12, which is cheaper than the same offerings on iTunes. Full-length previews allows you to try the songs before you buy. They have a monthly subscription which lets you stream the store's entire catalogue.
- Walmart MP3 Music Downloads DRM-free for MP3s cost $0.64, $0.94 or $1.24 each and most albums start at $8.99. You can browse all tracks at a specific price and it has the latest hits and classics.
- 7 Digital is a British store that has expanded into America. It has a catalogue of more than 6 million tracks. Most are DRM-free MP3 files and the store features an eclectic mix of old and new material. It focuses on recent hits and the best of underground hop-hop and alternative music. Songs cost $0.77 to $0.99 and $1.29 but most are only $0.77. Albums cost between $4.77 and $9.99 with many costing $7.77
- Amazon MP3 has a huge selection - 10 million tracks as against 11 million on iTunes - and has consistently lower prices than iTunes. It offers regular specials including an MP3 Daily Deal and bargain bins filled with categorised lists of albums for $5. The downloader utility works very well with iTunes and windows music libraries.
- Zune Marketplace is owned by Microsoft and is only available on windows, It is easy to use and works even if you do not have a Zune player. Its prices are about the same as iTunes with few discounts and purchases are made with Microsoft points which you purchase in $5 blocks. They have a Zune Pass subscription service at $15 a month which allows you to listen to any track in the catalogue, synchronize it up to three Zune devices and keep 10. Most tracks are in MP3 format and Microsoft plans to expand the service to include window phones.