The Cupertino, Calif.-based company said that the iTunes Affiliate Program will allow Web sites to link directly to specific content stored in iTunes' digital archives, and will pay dividends to those companies that can help Apple. The program mirrors Apple's efforts to by offering free iTunes site licenses to colleges. The company has also tried to drive sales through volume discount programs.
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Company representatives cited the affiliate program as an opportunity to expand access to iTunes, as well as increase the exposure of the service through Apple's partners. The announcement indicates that Apple may be ready to take further steps into the realm ofby allowing individuals or companies doing volume business over iTunes to create links to its back-end operations. Web services technology allows developers to more easily link computers, software and networks through standard interfaces.
Apple did not immediately provideabout how the affiliate program will operate.
The announcement comes just one day before Microsoft is expected to, which may to provide iTunes with another formidable rival. People familiar with Microsoft's plans have predicted that the company's MSN Music song store will have Web-based components similar to iTunes but that it will also depend heavily on the company's .
Apple has previously acknowledged that despite iTunes' success in, the operation has yet to become significantly profitable. Thus far the company has viewed the service as a marketing tool for its hardware products, specifically the .