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AOL, Colored Sugar Water to Promote iTunes

In addition to rolling out iTunes Music Store for Windows, Apple today announced two substantial marketing initiatives designed to keep the iTunes Music Store leading the pack of legal online music distribution services. Apple’s agreement with AOL will give an estimated 25 million AOL users in the United States single-click registration to the iTunes Music Store by integrating the entire iTunes catalog into AOL’s existing music site, AOL Music. Under the agreement, by the end of 2003 AOL users will be able to preview and purchase music from the iTunes Music Store just as any other registered iTunes user. Apple wins by radically expanding the potential customer base for Apple’s online content offerings, and AOL wins by hitching its online music offerings to the most successful commercial digital music distribution system around, rather than having to compete against it.

In addition, Apple is teaming with Pepsi—once famously characterized by Steve Jobs as a provider of "colored sugar water"— to give away up to 100 million songs via the iTunes Music Store. Beginning 01-Feb-04 with a Super Bowl advertisement, winning codes will be randomly seeded in the bottle caps of one-liter and twenty-ounce bottles of the company’s Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, and Sierra Mist soft drinks. Consumers will be able to enter a winning code into the iTunes Music Store and choose any 99 cent song from the iTunes Music Store catalog. (Complete details aren’t available yet, but don’t be surprised if this promotion is limited to U.S. residents.) Of course, to redeem a winning bottle cap, the consumer must have appropriate iTunes and QuickTime software installed on a Mac or Windows system, thus getting the iTunes software in front of millions of sugar-crazed eyeballs which might never have considered iTunes otherwise. Although it may seem odd to offer to give away 100 million songs when to date the iTunes Music store has sold only 13 million tracks, you can bet Apple and Pepsi realize not all 100 million codes will be successfully redeemed, and that Apple will only have to pay distributors and music publishers for successfully redeemed codes. In all, the initiative could be a tremendous boost for the iTunes service, and Apple CEO Steve Jobs is correct when he states: "Pepsi has marketed their products through music for generations, and this is going to be another one that is remembered for decades"—we just hope it isn’t remembered the same way we remember Michael Jackson’s hair catching on fire.

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