WAITING FOR A ONE IN A BILLION SHOT AT ITUNES

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- When Apple enticed iTunes addicts with a shot at becoming the lucky one-billionth purchaser of iTunes music, our Chicago Watercooler staffer was prepared. Like many children of the ‘60s, music dominates his life -- think Hendrix and Janis, the Airplane, the Who and Crosby, Stills & Nash before Neil Young mucked things up.

So Wednesday evening, well past his bedtime, our dedicated Watercooler staffer kept apple.com’s live countdown scroll running in an iMac window while playing a game of Lux and watching the umpteenth rerun of the day’s women’s snowboarding aerials and short track racing from Turin.

He had a selection of music ready to plug in, but when the counter hit 998,999,995 or so, all of a sudden, bang, everybody on a computer must have made a mad dash for iTunes gold and bought tunes simultaneously -- within seconds more than a million purchases were made. The big opportunity to win a new iMac, 10 iPods and the much-desired $10,000 iTunes gift card sailed away to suburban Detroit, where a Coldplay fan scored the one-billionth song --“Speed of Sound.”

The winning buy occurred around 1 a.m. CST on Feb. 23. (See list of the winner and those who just missed at www.apple.com/itunes/1billion/winners.html)

Apple says iTunes has 83% of the market for sales of online music, which jumped 190% to $1.1 billion in 2005, representing 6% of all music sold worldwide.

Our staffer, frustrated and shut out, decided to put some more money in Apple’s pocket anyway and bought a copy of Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs’ “Wooly Bully” just for old time’s sake.

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