A new site, iTunes per iPod, poses the following calculation: Apple sold 60 million tunes and 2.9 million iPods (as of April 15th). Therefore, the average iPod contains 21 purchased tunes. They, then, ask:

For perspective, the smallest iPods hold 1,000 songs, and some hold 10,000 songs. So, when people fill up those iPods, where does all the music come from?

They then proceed to speculate that a very significant amount of the typical iPod’s spare capacity is taken by illegal music downloads, and pitch for the Voluntary Collective Licensing system – which looks interesting but very un-RIAA-like.

Theirs would be a valid calculation if iPod sales were, like the iTunes music store, restricted to the US. However, that is clearly not the case. Slightly over 50% of Apple’s sales in the recent 3 years are outside the US and, although no exact figures are released, there’s no reason to suppose that iPod sales outside the US would be anomalously low. Neither is it valid to suppose that all iPod users are automatically interested in using the iTMS as their normal method of buying music. Supposing that 50% of iPods are sold in the area where the iTMS now operates, and that 10% of the iPod users are also significant iTMS users, we get a more reasonable amount of 400 songs per iTMS user’s iPod.

Also, most people have significant amounts of CDs in their collections that would be ripped to the iPods anyway. Let’s suppose the average iPod user has 200 CDs he’s interested in; that would mean around 2,000 tunes per iPod, 2400 on iTMS user’s iPods.

Checking out my own iPod I have slightly over 3000 tunes, nearly all of which come from either my own CD collection or my old LP collection, of which I’ve ripped but a fraction. Should iTMS become available in Brazil, would I stop buying CDs and switch over to the iTMS? Not really.

First of all, the average CD price in Brazil is somewhat adapted to the reduced buying power – about R$20, which comes out to US$7 or so, and you can find less expensive albums too. So the iTMS would be a resource to substitute expensive import CDs or rare items not usually found here. I doubt that Apple will be able to set regional prices lower than their standard $0.99 per tune. So, I foresee the iTMS becoming a hit in Europe, where CDs are very expensive, but not in the Third World.