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Apple’s iTunes almost at 800 million accounts, most ‘connected to a credit card’

Apple revealed Wednesday there are now almost 800 million iTunes accounts globally, up from 575 million back in June last year.

Speaking to investors during an earnings call Wednesday, boss Tim Cook called the figure “staggering,” while adding that most of them were connected to a credit card – information that could prove significant with the company believed to be considering entry into the mobile payments game.

He added that iTunes revenue “continues to grow at a double-digit rate,” describing the multimedia juggernaut as “a very important driver of our business, not only here in the United States, but around the world.”

Indeed, the CEO said that revenue from iTunes software and services in China – one of Apple’s most important and fastest expanding markets – had more than doubled in the last year.

Apple VP and corporate controller Luca Maestra offered up more detailed information, revealing that users spent $5.2 billion in the online store during the three-month period ending March 29, a rise of 24 percent on the same quarter 12 months earlier.

iTunes revamp?

Despite the seemingly good news, recent reports have suggested Apple executives are considering a major overhaul of the music-based elements of its iTunes store as users increasingly favor music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify over downloads.

The tech giant had been hoping to see plenty of extra download sales come from users clicking through to the iTunes store from its recently launched iTunes Radio streaming service, but it’s claimed no more than 2 percent have been doing so.

Recent data showed that so far this year, digital album sales in the US have dropped by 13 percent year-on-year, while digital track sales have declined 11 percent. In contrast, revenue from music streaming services is steadily climbing.

In an effort to deal with the changing conditions, Apple is apparently considering an on-demand streaming service – iTunes Radio currently automatically selects tracks based on a user’s music tastes – and may also bring the iTunes store to Android devices.

While it may need to find new ways to encourage users to click through from its streaming services to the iTunes store to make download purchases, continued revenue from its ad-supported iTunes Radio service together with income from a possible subscription-based on-demand offering should ensure that digital music continues to be a decent money-spinner for the company for some time to come.

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