The US computer firm says its iTunes website is way ahead of the competition...

Downloads taking place through APPLE’s ITUNES online music

store have now exceeded the 50million mark.

The 50millionth song, downloaded last Thursday (March 11) afternoon was ‘The Path Of Thorns’ by Sarah McLachlan. The figure doesn’t include songs given away for free through Pepsi’s current iTunes promotion in the US.

Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs said: “Crossing 50million songs is a major milestone for iTunes and the emerging digital music era. With over 50million songs already downloaded and an additional 2.5million songs being downloaded every week, it’s increasingly difficult to imagine others ever catching up with iTunes.”

The surge in popularity means iTunes users are now downloading songs at a rate of 130million per year.

A UK-specific version of iTunes is expected to launch this year.