Unique iTunes users will exceed RealPlayer users by the first half of 2007, according to projections by Website Optimization.

Users of iTunes grew by 47.5% over the past year, while the other streaming media players had single-digit growth.

At current growth rates iTunes users will exceed RealPlayer users by the second quarter of 2007:

Over the past year, the number of unique users of Apple’s iTunes player grew by 47.5%. Over the same time period, RealPlayer users grew by 9.1%, QuickTime by 8.7%, and Windows Media Player grew by 2.0% according to data provided by Nielsen//NetRatings (see Table 1). At current growth rates, iTunes should pass RealPlayer in unique users by the second quarter of 2007. Apple should be whistling a happy tune this year. While iTunes continues to show stong double-digit growth rates, Windows Media Player growth appeared to slow over the past year.

More info, including broadband growth trends in the US and Europe, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader "RadDoc" for the heads up.]
iTunes is based on QuickTime. If you’re watching or listening to media with iTunes, you’re simply using QuickTime with the iTunes UI. In the table above, add iTunes and QuickTime together and you’ll see that QuickTime use surpassed RealPlayer use in late 2005. Not to mention that RealPlayer is pure evil controlled by a nasty donut-eating troll.

These Nielsen//NetRatings QuickTime numbers always look strange to us, perhaps because Apple, on June 6, 2005, stated that “nearly a billion copies” of QuickTime have been downloaded all-time. And, the last time we checked, QuickTime was part of the iTunes installation under Windows, so do the math.

Regardless, by whatever measure, QuickTime use is obviously rising rapidly and those media outlets that insist on streaming in the limited choice of either Windows Media or Real need to rethink their delivery choices. Why would any company that offers online video provide content playable in the third place player and not the second place player that’s growing more rapidly than all others?

Related article:
Apple’s QuickTime-based iTunes shows massive growth, to pass RealPlayer soon – March 16, 2006