Apple has broken its customary reticence to reveal its German sales figures through the service.

The company now claims the iTunes Music Store to be the market-leading service in the country, selling over 15.5 million songs there in 2005, reports the Financial Times in Germany.

The sales put it narrowly ahead of closest competitor, Musicload (operated by T-Online, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom).

T-Online rejected Apple's claims, citing 15 million song sales of its own.

However, 1.5 per cent of those sales were given away free of charge, while Apple says free song downloads don't count toward its figures.

The news follows the move by former Belgian state telecoms firm, Belgacom, to close its Skynet music service in favour of a new partnership with iTunes.

Apple claims iTunes holds 80 per cent of the world's market for legitimate downloads.