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Online Shoppers Overwhelm iTunes Store

December 28, 2006

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Swarms of online shoppers armed with new iPods and iTunes gift cards apparently overwhelmed Apple’s iTunes music store over the holiday, prompting error messages and slowdowns of 20 minutes or more for downloads of a single song.

Frazzled users began posting urgent help messages Monday and Tuesday on Apple’s technical forum for iTunes, complaining they were either not allowed into the store or were told the system couldn’t process their request to download songs and videos.

It was not immediately clear how many people were affected by the slowdowns, and Apple Computer Inc. would not immediately comment Wednesday on what caused the slowdown and whether it had been fixed.

Analysts said the problems likely were the result of too many people with holiday iPods and iTunes gift cards trying to access the site at once.

Traffic indeed was heavy over the holiday, with more than four times as many people visiting the iTunes Web site on Christmas than at the same time last year, online market researcher Hitwise said Wednesday.

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