Apple Launches iTunes for Windows

In case you were in hibernation, here’s what happened today: Apple unveiled the Windows version of its iTunes music service…the new jukebox software for Windows is free and offers a one-click access to downloads of an expansive music catalogue, with most songs priced at 99 cent.

It supports Apple’s copy-protected Advanced Audio Coding format as well as MP3–but not Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio (WMA) format.

Other agreements:

— new accessories for the iPod, including a microphone and a reader for removable flash memory cards.

— Apple and AOL have agreed to put iTunes “buy this song” buttons next to every song that’s listed in AOL’s music service, which its 25 million subscribers can access. [Well, technically, it is probably only its broadband users which will download the songs…downloading on a dial-up?]…very interestingly, billing will be handled through the customer’s existing arrangement with AOL.

— Next year, PepsiCo will launch a separate promotion, giving away 100 million iTunes songs as part of a sweepstakes it will launch in connection with the 2004 Super Bowl.

In related news, Apple has signed up with Audible, to provide its downloadable audio books/services through the music store…this is a big win for Audible, even though it already has a long-standing relationship with Apple. The Audible books can also be downloaded onto iPods. On the revenues front for Apple, the company made it clear that it doesn’t have any illusions that it can make great profits from selling songs over the Internet….instead it is counting on the sales of iPods.