The ITunes Store: Five Years and $2,315.60 Later

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Tuesday marks the fifth anniversary of The Store--the music/video/podcast/iPod game/iPod touch software emporium launched by Apple on April 28, 2003. To mark the occasion I thought I'd take a gander at my Purchase History and use it to note a handful of personal landmarks.

April 28, 2003 I drop my first US$19.98 by purchasing Tori Amos' From the Choirgirl Hotel and Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive. Of interest is that I already owned Jumpin' Jive on vinyl. As it turns out, this was to set a pattern for my early purchases. Of the $931.71 I've spent on iTunes music over the five years, $136.89 was thrown at music I already owned in one iPod-unfriendly form or another.

November 16, 2003 Before that year's Thanksgiving feed-fest I decided to give myself a little something to be thankful for--a manageable iTunes budget in the guise of a monthly allowance. Although iTunes doesn't allow you to purchase an allowance for the user ID you log in with, you can easily create a different ID (using a different email account to sign up) and send yourself a little gift each month.

December 1, 2003 Audiobooks had come to The Store and it was my duty to check them out, as I did with a reading of P.G. Wodehouse's The Mating Season. Given that I work at home and don't have endless commute hours to kill, I still haven't listened to the entire thing.

December 21, 2003 Determined to do unto others, I bought seven $20 iTunes gift certificates, printed them out, and distributed them at a holiday party my family attends every year. As The Store was still in its infancy and not everyone on earth yet owned an iPod (or were attuned to iTunes on a PC, for that matter), many of the recipients received their gifts with a puzzled expression--offering that sort of look you muster when you've been given a white elephant and aren't quite sure how to fashion the appropriate words of gratitude.

October 21, 2004 I purchase Fripp & Eno's No Pussyfooting and Evening Star to avoid the nuisance of interrupting the Frippertronic-flow by flipping the records over. I later learn that what The Store giveth, it can also taketh away. Neither recording is currently available from iTunes.

February 3, 2005 I grab my first free music from The Store--The iTunes Music Sampler (Universal Motown Edition). Two weeks later I glom onto another free collection of music from Atlantic records.

May 9, 2005 The Dave Matthews Band releases Stand Up, a release that included not only all the music found on the album, but bonus music videos and a digital booklet as well. The CD version was among those that contained Sony's ill-fated copy-protection scheme that planted a computer exploit on PCs. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

October 20, 2005 Music videos come to iTunes! Music videos come to iTunes! I purchase U2's Original of the Species and Kate Bush's The Red Shoes. I expense them, watch each a time or two, and swear to never purchase another.

December 6, 2005 TV shows have come to The Store and I do my part by purchasing the first few episodes of The Office, a TV series now missing thanks to the shortsighted idiots overseeing digital content at NBC Universal.

May 4, 2006 Speaking of The Office, that Ricky Gervais is a very funny fellow. If I'd spent more time keeping track of his current projects I could have downloaded The Ricky Gervais Show in podcast form for free rather than pungling up $4.95 for the privilege. (It now costs $6.95, suckers.)

May 8, 2006 I was busy raising a small child when Lost first launched and I missed the boat. Now that I had an hour free each night, it was catch-up time. After purchasing the first two seasons of Lost I began to fully appreciate the value of digesting an entire season of a confounding show like Lost in a couple of weeks. Pretty much puts an end to those "Now, who's that guy again?" queries.

September 12, 2006 It had been ages since I'd played Tetris and now that it was available in 5G iPod-compatible form, it was time to revisit the game and learn just what a pig-poor controller a clickwheel is.

Oh, and that day also heralded the purchase of my first movie from The Store--Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. The single purchase compelled me to finally jack my iPod into the TV. A surprisingly satisfying experience.

May 30, 2007 iTunes Plus arrives on the scene and I choose to spend $23.75 to upgrade my music collection. Later, after comparing the Plus version to the original protected version, I wonder why I didn't just throw the money out the window instead.

September 26, 2007Amazon MP3 has launched, allowing me to purchase protection-free MP3 files for prices often less than what the same music costs at The Store. To compare one to the other I purchase Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb from both outlets and quickly realize that 40-cents saved is 40-cents earned.

January 16, 2008 I have seen the future and it is $20 iPod touch software updates. This upgrade, that places the iPhone's Mail, Maps, Weather, Stocks, and Notes applications on the iPod touch, also gives us our first glimpse at what iPhone application purchases will likely look like when they appear this summer.

January 22, 2008 Movie rentals go live. With the accounting department's okay I rent Spiderman 3, Live Free or Die Hard, and Disney's Hercules. All three are rented from my Apple TV and, other than suffering through Spidey's wretched excess, I think "Now this is something."

January 25, 2008 Bed calls and I've yet to finish watching Live Free or Die Hard. I wonder what would happen if I just paused the movie and, without touching the Apple TV, came back the next night and pressed Play.

January 26, 2008 Hey, it works!

February 7, 2008 I rent 3:10 to Yuma, transfer it to my 3G iPod nano, and promptly forget that I've done so.

March 14, 2008 Ah, so that's what happens when you keep a rental longer than 30 days without playing it.

April 1, 2008 Cool, I can remix Radiohead's Nude by purchasing five "stem" (part) files from The Store. Interesting notion, though Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has been offering this kind of thing for how long and for free?

April 28, 2008 I sit before my 18 pages of iTunes Purchase History and an Excel spreadsheet that sums up the past five years thusly:

Music: $931.71

TV shows: $240.40

Movie purchases: $83.93

Movie rentals: $66.85

Audiobooks: $24.92

Gift certificates: $500

Music videos: $3.98

Paid podcasts: $11.90

iPod games: $5.98

Gifted music: $5.94

iPod touch software: $19.99

Monthly allowance: $420

Total: $2315.60

Yow.

So, how have the past five years treated you?

This story, "The ITunes Store: Five Years and $2,315.60 Later" was originally published by Macworld.

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