At long last, Apple has launched the Japanese version of its iTunes Music Store. Some one million songs will be available to Japanese customers, selling at either ¥150 ($1.35/£0.76) or ¥200 ($1.80/£1.01). The Japanese store is the first to launch with multi-tier pricing up front. Apple iTunes certainly has its work cut out for it in Japan, but it is already off to an OK start.
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.
All of this took some serious negotiation; Japanese labels have a far greater hold on the distribution of music than Western labels do. The Japanese store's prices are higher than the US store's, but similar to what customers are paying in the UK.