Forrester Research has begun backpedalling on its recent claims that iTunes sales are slowing down.

Analyst Josh Bernoff has responded to media reports quoting him as saying that iTunes sales had fallen by as much as 58 per cent. 

His comments follow strong criticism of the claims, which were widely reported by major media outlets.

They also follow research released by Piper Jaffray yesterday which bluntly contradicts Bernoff's claims. Sales are climbing, not falling, the second analysis states.

"From January to September in 2005 Apple sold 10.4 million songs per week and in 2006 that number was up 78 per cent to 18.5 million songs per week over the same nine-month period," said Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster.

"We continue to believe the shift to online distribution of media is in its infancy. We estimate 5 per cent of worldwide music sales were online in 2006."

Piper Jaffray notes that iTunes sales usually peak after the holiday season, presumably as owners of shiny new iPods download new tracks for their music players.

Writing on his blog, Bernoff attempted to blame the media for the way it reported his claims – based mainly on analysis of old US credit card data. Despite this, he continues to insist that iTunes sales are levelling off, which seems unlikely given continued growing iPod sales.

Bernoff also attempted to lay some blame with Apple, saying the company's extreme secrecy leaves it open to waves of speculation.

Apple yesterday broke its silence to deny Bernoff's damaging claims – which drove company stock down 3 per cent, despite most analysis predicting another outstanding quarter for the company's sales across all its product areas.

"The conclusion that iTunes sales are slowing is simply incorrect," Apple said.

"Apple is leading the digital music revolution with almost 70 million iPods sold and a stunning 1.5 billion songs purchased from the iTunes Store. iTunes sales represent nearly 6 per cent of all music sold in the US, making iTunes the fourth largest music retailer there," the company stressed.

"In the UK our market share is around 80 per cent of the legal download music market as per the Official Charts Company," Apple explained.