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iTunes claims 25B total downloads, 15B since 2010

Apple's digital music store shows no signs of slowing down, even in the face of new competition from the likes of Pandora and Spotify.

iTunes: Bigger than the Beatles? Lance Whitney/CNET

iTunes music downloads officially outnumber human beings on this planet by 3-to-1.

That's the word today from Apple, which announced that the 25 billionth song has been downloaded from the iTunes store.

Almost a decade after beginning its quest to supposedly save the music industry from the likes of nasty file-sharing meanies such as the original incarnation of Napster, Kazaa, Limewire and others, Apple's little digital music stand now claims a catalog of 26 million songs -- up from 12 million just two years ago -- available in 119 countries, not to mention the billions of dollars it has made selling them to all of us.

While competing services and new models for music consumption like Pandora and Spotify are gaining in popularity, there seems to be little indication that the public's fervor for downloading from iTunes is abating. It took Apple nearly seven years to sell its first 10 billion songs, reaching that milestone a little less than two years ago. In the 24 months that have followed, another 15 billion songs have been added to the tally.

Apple's Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said in a press release that an average of 15,000 songs are downloaded from the store per minute. Cue cites Adele and Coldplay as some of the more popular artists in the store, along with newer artists like the Lumineers.

Apple hasn't yet given us a list of the most downloaded tracks of all time, as it did back in 2010 with the 10 billionth download announcement, but that list included mostly contemporary hits rather than classics, which would seem to be further evidence of the platform's continuing growth.

In 2010, the most downloaded song of all time was the oft flash-mobbed "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas. I've got a feeling that if we were to see the current all-time list of top downloads, it would have much more of a Korean flavor, a "Gangnam Style" if you will.