U2's deal with Apple, which saw the launch of a U2 iPod and an exclusive 400-track "digital box set" of all the band’s album, spells the end of the CD.

Band manager Paul McGuinnes told The Times: "Yes, it spells the end of the CD, but it’s happening anyway. Having said that, the entire legal downloading business is still only 3 per cent of the total. And the digital box set is only really available to those with broadband, or high-speed, Internet. It’ll be pretty pointless with dial-up."

U2 has received some criticism for what is seen as a commercial venture, and somewhat in conflict with the bands views on issues such as Aids in Africa to Third World debt. However, according to McGuinness, the deal is no different from any of U2’s other promotional activities.

"We’ve always done 'co-op' advertising, which means we share the cost of advertising with music retailers, be it iTunes or Tower Records. Apple didn’t pay us to be in the Vertigo ad. It would be a lot different if we were selling Coca-Cola.

"As for the black U2 iPod, it can be seen as just another piece of U2 merchandise," he said.

Following news of the deal, shares in Apple climbed. The Guardian deduces that the U2 endorsement has "effectively added $2billion (£1.1billion) to the stock market value of the company."

"It also makes their online music deal by far the most lucrative signed by any rock band in history."