SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Apple Computer Inc. said Monday it has sold more than 50 million songs through its online iTunes Music Store.

Apple's latest tally falls short of its one-year anniversary target of 100 million songs by April 28, but company officials said they weren't discouraged.

``Setting that goal was a way to put the stake in the ground and say that we were going to be the leader,'' said Rob Schoeben, Apple's vice president of applications marketing.

A dozen other online music services followed Apple's 99-cents-per-download debut with similar a la carte song services.

Apple maintains a clear lead over its closest rival, Napster, which announced its 5 million-song milestone in February. Another competitor, Musicmatch, has not disclosed its song sales but analysts estimate it follows closely behind Napster.

Shares of Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple fell $1.11 to close at $26.45 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.