February 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Apple and iTunes climb the charts to No. 2 music retailer in the U.S.

Apple says its iTunes online music store is now the number two music retailer in the U.S. behind Wal-Mart, based on the latest data from the NPD Group Music Watch survey. ITunes has sold more than 4 billion songs, the company says.

Apple Inc. says its iTunes online music store now is the number two music retailer in the U.S. behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based on the latest data from the NPD Group Music Watch survey. Apple says ITunes has sold more than 4 billion songs and that the web retailer’s catalog contains more than 6 million songs.

Market research firm NPD Group’s MusicWatch survey captures consumer-reported weekly unit purchases, excluding wireless transactions. The iTunes Music Store became the second-largest music retailer in the U.S. after Wal-Mart, based on the amount of music sold during 2007, Apple says.

“We’d like to thank the over 50 million music lovers who have helped the iTunes Store reach this incredible milestone,” says Eddy Cue, vice president of iTunes. “We continue to add great new features like iTunes movie rentals to give our customers even more reason to love iTunes.”

Apple, No. 15 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, recently launched online movie rentals featuring movies from all of nine major movie studios.

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