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Predicting Apple's 10 Billion Song Countdown

Published February 15, 2010

Remember the days when getting music meant leaving your chair and driving to a store? Remember having to buy a whole album of filler to get that one great song you heard on the radio? iTunes didn't only change the way music was distributed... it changed music. This is why the upcoming milestone is so momentus. In the next few days, iTunes will reach 10 billion song downloads. That's ten billion with a b. A one followed by TEN zeroes. That's a song for every person on the planet, plus an extra 3,300,000,000 songs left over. To mark the occasion, iTunes is giving a $10,000 iTunes giftcard to the lucky downloader of the 10 billionth track. Mike and I thought it'd be a fun challenge to try and come up with an accurate educated guess of when the download will happen to increase our chances of being the lucky winner.

To come up with a good estimation, we started by taking a look at Apple's "countdown" page. The 10 Billion Song Countdown page features a really awesome countdown effect without a lick of Flash; it's all done by moving a large background-image up and down with Javascript and CSS. By taking a look at the source code, we quickly discovered that the counter's starting amount and rate of change is being loaded from a text file off the Apple server seen here: http://www.apple.com/autopush/us/itunes/includes/countdown.inc?r=0.07180374805674761 (the number on the end is presumably a random number sent to prevent caching)

This file is updated every hour and is a simple one line string. The string contains the timestamp, the current count and the how many songs were downloaded in the last hour. In order to calculate our estimation, we set up a script that logs the newest data every hour from Apple and stores it into a database. With this data, we can analyze the rate of change per hour, every hour and convert Apple's countup counter into RustyBrick's countDOWN counter. We have created a few algorithms and crunched a lot of data and our prediction is below.

Songs to Go before 10 Billion: Loading...
Approx Date and Time for 10 Billionth: Loading...


Number of iTunes Song Downloads to Reach 10,000,000,000

10 Billionth iTunes Song Countdown!
00 days 00 hours
00 minutes 00 seconds

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Would you like this widget on your website or blog? Copy/paste the following code:



With all this data at our disposal, we thought it would be fun to do some cool stuff with it. We're nerds for great data sources. For example, here's yesterday's rate of song downloads (in Eastern Standard Time).




Now, it's important to note two things. Our prediction will (hopefully!) get more and more accurate as time goes on as we collect more and more data from Apple. So, be sure to bookmark this page or use the widget for the latest info.

Also remember that the counter is purely for novelty purposes as it's impossible to tell EXACTLY when the ten billionth download will occur. Apple's counter is only using an hourly feed so we're left to make educated guesses at the end date. Also, even if we were able to get the exact second of the final download... at the time this blog page was loaded, Apple is averaging _ downloads every second.

However, we can tell you that if you use our estimator, you'll greatly increase your odds of winning the grand prize. Good luck and be sure to share the loot if you win! ;-)

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Alex worked on several successful e-commerce websites before joining the RB team. He graduated from SUNY Purchase with a Bachelor's in Math & Computer Science.

This article is under Apple, Geek Factor, Databases, Creative

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