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iTunes now Apple's fourth-largest business, says analyst

Apple's online marketplace has become much more than the break-even business it used to be, says Asymco's Horace Dediu.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Apple's iTunes generated revenue of $13.5 billion last year, making it the company's fourth-largest business, according to Asymco analyst Horace Dediu.

A business that simply broke even a few years ago has been rising "steadily and rapidly," Dediu said in a post yesterday. iTunes has averaged growth of more than 30 percent over the past two years. The $13.5 billion in sales in 2012 was up from $10.2 billion in 2011.

At the same time that iTunes is adding a greater chunk of sales to Apple's overall results, the Mac and iPod lineups are contributing less. If this trend continues, iTunes could become Apple's third-largest business sometime this year, forecasts Dediu.

Another business already bigger than the Mac is Apple's Accessories line, which includes products such as Apple TV. As Dediu points out, iTunes and Apple accessories depend on hardware sales to thrive. But the results show that these "ancillary" businesses are contributing more than their fair share.

"Indeed, if seen in isolation, iTunes plus Accessories combined is a bigger business in terms of revenues than any of the other phone vendors except Samsung," Dediu said.