Apple helped free us from the tyranny of bundled music.
Apple sliced music buying into 99-cent chunks and let us buy only the songs we wanted. Gone were $15 discs packed with B-sides and crappy record-store return policies. Our CDs once crammed entire bookcases. But Apple and iTunes, the company's media-management software and store, enabled us to neatly tuck the equivalent number of songs into our pockets and purses.
Steve Jobs (at left), Apple's CEO, stripped down and rebuilt nearly the entire music experience for consumers. His company created a software, hardware, and retail answer for buying, managing, and storing digital songs. Consumers loved the company for that, and Apple has sold more than 10 billion songs. In 2008, the company eclipsed Tower, Virgin, and even Wal-Mart to become the largest music retailer in the land--online or offline.
One after the other, some of the biggest tech and entertainment companies have challenged Apple's dominance over digital music, including Sony, MTV, Microsoft, RealNetworks, Amazon.com, Yahoo and Wal-Mart. Apple crushed them.
In a huge understatement, Jobs predicted in 2003, shortly after the launch of the iTunes store, that Microsoft and others who were gearing up to take him on might have some trouble. "We've created this music store," Jobs told Rolling Stone Magazine, "which I think is nontrivial to copy."