Apple’s approaching another milestone with its iTunes Music Store: selling its 500 millionth track. In celebration, Apple has set up an online song counter so customers can see just how fast the 500 million mark is approaching. The tally’s up to 491,295,326 as of this writing, and the counter is visible on the front door of the iTunes Music Store, as well as Apple’s home page (so long as you’re using a new-enough Web browser).
As part of the countdown Apple is once again giving away prizes to customers whose purchase(s) happen to span a nice round number. Customers who buy a track at a 100,000th song interval will receive an iPod mini and a 50-song iTMS gift card, but the real prize goes to the purchaser of the 500 millionth track: a whopping 10 iPods of their choice, a 10,000-song iTMS gift card, and an all-expenses-paid trip for four to see the band Coldplay perform on their current world tour.
My question is: Doesn’t 10 iPods seem like an awkward first prize? Apple can’t spring for some iPod-enabled clothing (iPod socks!), add-ons, or boomboxes? Maybe an iPod-enabled BMW to go along with them? What do you do with 10 iPods? Giving them to family and friends, as Apple suggests, seems like it could be a recipe for disaster. After all, those folks know you have 10,000 free songs coming to you, and outnumber you as much as ten-to-one: you could easily be left high and dry. And the members of Coldplay already have iPods of their own if they want them, so the iPods probably aren’t an effective lure to get them to sign some part of your body with a Sharpie. The burdens we bear in this digital age just keep getting stranger.