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Apple’s iTunes U hits the 1B download mark

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Apple’s(s AAPL) iTunes U education initiative hit 1 billion cumulative downloads, the company said Thursday. The service, which provides free access to lectures, videos, and course materials to teachers and educational groups, has been around since 2007. But it got a boost a year ago when Apple introduced a dedicated iTunes U app to go along with its iPad-oriented educational initiative, which included an iBooks authoring tool that would help textbook companies and educators create learning material.

Compared to some of Apple’s other software, 1 billion downloads in nearly six years may not seem like such a big deal. (The iOS App Store hit 40 billion downloads this year, less than five years in.) But the service is picking up steam. Apple released some other numbers as well that illustrate the size and scope of iTunes U:

  • More than 1,200 colleges are using iTunes U
  • 1,200 K-12 “schools and districts” are using it
  • There are 2,500 public courses in use and “thousands” of private courses
  • Some courses have more than 250,000 enrolled in them
  • Access is available to students in 30 countries
  • About 60 percent of iTunes U app downloads come from outside the U.S.