Apple today announced that iTunes is now the number two music retailer in the US, behind only Wal-Mart, based on the latest data from the NPD Group. Apple also announced that there are now over 50 million iTunes Store customers. iTunes has sold over four billion songs, with an incredible 20 million songs sold on Christmas Day 2007 alone, and offers the world’s largest music catalog of over six million songs from all of the majors and thousands of independent labels.

“We’d like to thank the over 50 million music lovers who have helped the iTunes Store reach this incredible milestone,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president of iTunes, in the press release. “We continue to add great new features like iTunes Movie Rentals to give our customers even more reason to love iTunes.”

Last month, Apple launched iTunes Movie Rentals featuring movies from all of the major movie studios including 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), Lionsgate and New Line Cinema. Users can rent movies and watch them on their PCs or Macs, all current generation iPods (iPod classic, iPod nano with video and iPod touch), iPhone and on a widescreen TV with Apple TV. iTunes Movie Rentals will offer over 1,000 titles by the end of this month, including over 100 titles in stunning high definition video with 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound which users can rent directly from their widescreen TV using Apple TV.

iTunes Movie Rentals are available in the US only and are $2.99 for library titles and $3.99 for new releases, and high definition versions (available only via Apple TV) are priced just one dollar more with library titles at $3.99 and new releases at $4.99. Movie rentals from the iTunes Store for Mac or Windows require iTunes 7.6. iTunes Movie Rentals require a valid credit card with a billing address in the country of purchase.

MacDailyNews Note:
The Apple iTunes Music Store Milestones:
• February 26, 2008: 4 billion songs sold.
• July 31, 2007: 3 billion songs sold.
• April 09, 2007: 2.5 billion songs sold.
• January 09, 2007: 2 billion songs sold.
• February 23, 2006: 1 billion songs sold.
• February 7, 2006: 950 million songs sold.
• January 9, 2006: 850 million songs sold.
• October 25, 2005: Available in Australia.
• August 4, 2005: Available in Japan.
• July 17, 2005: 500 million songs sold.
• May 10, 2005: 400 million songs sold. Custom stores for music fans in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
• January 24, 2005: 250 million songs sold.
• December 16, 2004: 200 million songs sold.
• December 2, 2004: Available in Canada.
• October 26, 2004: Available to music lovers in the European Union.
• October 14, 2004: 150 million songs sold.
• July 12, 2004: 100 million songs sold.
• June 15, 2004: Available in UK France Germany.
• April 28, 2004: 70 million songs sold.
• March 15, 2004: 50 million songs sold.
• December 15, 2003: 25 million songs sold.
• October 16, 2003: Available for windows. 13 million songs sold.
• September 8, 2003: 10 million songs sold.
• June 23, 2003: 5 million songs sold.
• May 14, 2003: 2 million songs sold.
• May 5, 2003: One million songs sold.
• April 28, 2003: Launched in United States.