Apple has admitted that its stiffest music-business challenge is getting new people to buy music online.

Apple's vice president for applications and Internet services Eddy Cue told The New York Times: "Our biggest challenge is getting new customers. Believe or not a lot of people are still unaccustomed to buying something digital, where you're not getting physical goods."

He added: "Apple is adding features to the site to allow users to become more engaged and to communicate more actively with one another.

"The goal is to enhance iTunes's reputation as a destination that can help customers find music they might like. It's all about making it easier for people to find music. One thing we know is it's addictive."

GartnerG2 analyst Mike McGuire says another factor is the emergence of online-music competitors, including Microsoft, meaning Apple has to work even harder to keep its market share,

McGuire said: "The question is how does Apple keep people coming back? Music customers and listeners want to be active participants. Otherwise, you're just a store.

"One such feature is iMix, which is an attempt to create community. It's an important tool."

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