Feeds

Apple launches iTunes Japan

Puts iPod into Japanese cars too

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Apple finally launched the Japanese version of its iTunes Music Store today, but less widely reported tie-ins with three major car makers will probably have a greater impact on the company's fortunes.

ITMS Japan will offer listeners a choice of 1m songs, available at either ¥150 ($1.35/£0.76) or ¥200 ($1.80/£1.01). Apple has began to introduce differential pricing in the US, with some songs from independent labels coming in above the 99c it initially established as the standard price. However, the Japanese store is the first to launch with multi-tier pricing up front.

Apple now operates stores for 20 countries around the world, with Australia the most notable absence from the list.

ITMS Japan has taken Apple some time to prepare, after undergoing some tough negotiations with the major labels there. Japanese labels have a far greater hold on the distribution of music than Western labels do. Hurdles the company has had to overcome include criticism of the strength of its DRM technology, the limitations the copy protection system imposes on songs, and the pricing. The Japanese store's prices are higher than the US store's, but comparable to the UK's.

Separately, Apple said Nissan, Mazda and Daihatsu have all agreed to build iPod-compatible stereos into their 2006 auto line-ups. BMW and its subsidiary, Mini, along with Smart and Alfa Romeo, have also said they will support iPod in-car entertainment in the Japanese market.

Apple claims the iPod accounts for 36 per cent of the Japanese MP3 player market, ahead of Sony (22 per cent), and Creative, iRiver and Rio combined (27 per cent). But it's clearly facing a harder fight here than, say, the US, where it has 74 per cent of the market, according to June figures from market watcher NPD.

Indeed, at today's launch, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a point of highlighting that while 6m-odd iPods shipped the company's most recent quarter, Sony shipped only 2m PSPs. Clearly PSP is seen as a potential rival, though the markets the two devices nominally target are different.

The deals with the car-makers will help, by allowing broadening the number of environments in which IPod owners can use the music player, and through the brand marketing these companies will bring. Car salespeople are not going to tell prospective purchasers that the vehicle they are looking at can take an MP3 player, they are going to specify Apple's MP3 player. Even buyers who don't care about such things, are likely to be steered toward the iPod should they decide later on they need a digital music player.

Auto-makers can be powerful allies and demonstrate the 'iPod ecosystem' extends well beyond add-on carry cases and speakers. it's very powerful brand reinforcement indeed. ®

Related stories

Creative unveils portable video Vision
Napster pays plenty for modest growth in Q1
MS IPTV is lovely, says MS IPTV chap
Real finds another profitable quarter
Apple hauls mouse technology into 1990s
HP and Apple end iPod affair
Olive conducts Symphony for classical music fans
iPod users in musical hallucination threat

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
BIG FAT Lies: Porky Pies about obesity
What really shortens lives? Reading this sort of crap in the papers
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?