Every consumer knows that Apple has been behind some of the most important innovations of the the last decade. Just look at how the music, cell phone and computer industries have changed since the introductions of iTunes, the iPhone and the iPad. However, the company has also released other products to much less fanfare that can be just as influential.

In a recent press release, the company announced that iTunes U, the free catalog of educational content that is a feature of iTunes and has been around since 2007, has officially surpassed 1 billion downloads. The program offers users the ability to watch lectures, do assignments and read books that are part of classes from prominent universities like Oxford, MIT or Yale.

"It's inspiring to see what educators and students of all types are doing with iTunes U," Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said in the release. "With the incredible content offered on iTunes U, students can learn like never before – there are now iTunes U courses with more than 250,000 students enrolled in them, which is a phenomenal shift in the way we teach and learn."

Despite the good news, technology blog Ars Technica asks the question of how many people actually take advantage of this service. People tend to be in one of two camps when it comes to iTunes U – they use it all the time or have never heard of it. The website is conducting a survey to see how their users interact with the service.

iTunes U is just another example of how a company that has completed a Mac integration can keep ahead of the competition. With the program, employees can attend lectures of over 2,500 public courses from the comfort of their office desk.