iTunes Store Launches For Asia-Pacific Users Amid Concerns

On June 2012, iTunes Asia Pacific stores were launched. The popular online media store opened virtual branches in the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and other countries. The opening of these stores means customers will have an easier time downloading videos and music legally.

The Biggest Music Vendor

Since it became first available in the US in 2003, iTunes has become the most popular music vendor on the planet. By the end of 2011, over 16 billion songs have been purchased there. But prior to the launching in the middle of June, it was only available in the Asia Pacific in three countries: New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

Benefits of the Asia Pacific Stores

Previously, iPad and iPhone users in Asia could download apps made for specific nations. They could also get global software but are not able to buy films or songs without a gift card or credit card registered to nations with full blown iTunes stores. The restriction is due to copyright and licensing reasons. The limitations are now gone with the opening of these stores.

Aside from the iTunes Asia Pacific stores, Apple also opened branches in Vietnam, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Macau, Laos, Cambodia and Brunei.

Growing Demand in Asia Pacific

The launching of these stores is the latest indication that Apple wants to localize their offerings. This is similar to the efforts made by Google for its popular YouTube site. Wired countries in the Asia Pacific region has shown a strong demand for Apple products, and the company launched the store in response.

Studies have shown that Asia-Pacific users are heavy buyers of iOS, including the iPod, iPhone and iPad. A study by mobile advertising company AdMob in 2010 showed that there are more users in Singapore with the latest iOS systems than the US (10% compared to 6%). Studies show that 50% of Southeast Asian users rely on mobile Apple products. This study was done by media solutions company Effective Measure.

It should be noted that the launch does not include China. It is true that the country is home to a vast number of Apple products. However, the digital music revenue is only around 46.9 million dollars, less than 2% of the US.

The low revenue is due to rampant piracy. According to a study by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, the digital piracy rate is at 99%. Because China has twice as many Internet users as the US, the potential revenue is great.

Challenges Ahead for Apple

The opening of these iTunes stores bodes an exciting and challenging time for Apple. Because it is still early days, there are still things being worked out. For instance, some Asian users say the products in the new iTunes store are limited in number. In some areas TV shows cannot be downloaded.

It is also unclear if people will be willing to pay for these apps, given the rampant piracy. But some industry observers believe that the simple methods provided to buy original music will curb some of it. At the very least, the stores can promote local artists. It also gives people a chance to buy music and videos legally.

The price varies, depending on the country. In Singapore, the cost is 9.98 and 12.98 Singapore dollars (US$7.80-$10.15) per album. Songs can be bought for S$1.28 (US$1). The price in other iTunes Asia Pacific stores differs.

Charlie is a free lancer writer and content builder of