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Apple marks iPod milestone; SanDisk ramps up competitor

Rex Crum
MarketWatch (MCT)

SAN FRANCISCO - Apple Inc. took time to pat itself on the back for reaching a milestone in iPod sales on Monday, but as it did, one of its chief rivals took the opportunity to unveil a new digital music player that offers wireless music downloads.

Apple released a statement saying that it has sold 100 million iPods since the device was first released in November 2001. Since then, Apple said it has introduced more than 10 new iPod models.

Apple also reiterated that it has sold more than 2.5 billion songs, 50 million TV shows and 1.3 million movies through its iTunes Music Store.

According to technology research firm NPD, Apple still holds a commanding stake of almost 74 percent of the U.S. retail market for MP3 player sales. Second place, with 9 percent, is held by SanDisk Corp., which released a new player that offers a technology not yet included in any iPod.

SanDisk's new Sansa Connect, which the company began selling on Friday, allows users to wirelessly download songs from a Wi-Fi network through Yahoo Inc.'s music service. The new SanDisk player can also connect to a computer for music transfers.

While Apple's iTunes sells songs or albums, and then customers own the music, Yahoo's service offers subscription packages starting at $11.99 a month for unlimited downloads. However, customers using Yahoo's service don't own the songs the download.

Apple shares fell $1.03 to close at $93.65, while SanDisk was gave up 47 cents to end the day at $44.03 and Yahoo fell 32 cents a share to close at $31.64.

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