Although enough people reacted negatively to a surprise U2 album in their iTunes account that Apple posted instructions for deleting it, the music provider reported this week that 26 million people have downloaded "Songs of Innocence" in its entirety since they released it at the beginning of last month.

According to Apple, that’s nearly double the 14 million who previously had purchased the group's music through iTunes since it launched in 2003.

I’d say the publicity stunt paid off as U2 achieves their ultimate goal: a global reach of their new music in this world of fractured attention spans with so many entertainment choices.

The Edge told The Observer in the U.K. that he had his doubts about releasing "Songs Of Innocence" as an automatic download.

"I absolutely had my doubts about it before we did it, and after, but it was the right thing to do. It was an opportunity that will only ever come around once for anybody. I don't think anybody would want to do it again."

Bono added, "We were already annoying people, it was already divisive, it was already, 'I can't stand them, I want to kill them.’ It's the job of art to be divisive."

Bassist Adam Clayton also weighed in. "The plan wasn't to be controversial. In today's world there is so much chatter, so in order to get through the chatter I'm afraid we are destined to make a very loud noise ourselves,” he said.

This week marks the official release of their new album on CD and vinyl. According to the band’s website, the 2 CD format comes with two 16 page booklets, the 11 track album on CD1 plus additional tracks on CD2 including a six-song acoustic session along with “Lucifer's Hands,” “The Crystal Ballroom,” “The Troubles (Alternative Version)” and “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight (Alternative Perspective Mix by Tchad Blake).” The “white vinyl” model includes a 12” mix of “The Crystal Ballroom.”

U2's new album has sold 26 million copies since the controversial launch last month.johnwrightphoto.com