Australian iTunes overshadows briefing

Despite fevered speculation Apple Australia was planning to announce today the launch of an iTunes music store in this country -- with some pundits claiming a statement was being prepared to coincide with the MacWorld conference in the US -- nothing eventuated.Apple Australia introduced several of their new products at a briefing this morning -- including the new member of the iPod family -- but did not mention anything about iTunes Australia.

Despite fevered speculation Apple Australia was planning to announce today the launch of an iTunes music store in this country -- with some pundits claiming a statement was being prepared to coincide with the MacWorld conference in the US -- nothing eventuated.

Apple Australia introduced several of their new products at a briefing this morning -- including the new member of the iPod family -- but did not mention anything about iTunes Australia.

Music analyst Phil Tripp said Apple would not introduce iTunes in the Australian market until all the deals with partners are signed. He added that Australia had a different copyright system that Apple needs to "overcome".

"Apple will not introduce iTunes into the Australian market until all the deals are right and the timing is right. We have a different copyright system that has to be overcome plus a different currency system that fluctuates a lot. We are only two percent of the world market. It's a commercial decision and Apple will concentrate on the major markets in the world first," Tripp said.

Apple iTunes music stores are available in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Britain, Ireland, Canada and the US.

The store allows users to buy music online and download it to their iPods, PCs or Macs.

Apple chief executive officer Steve Jobs said during the MacWorld conference in California that 230 million songs have been sold via iTunes worldwide, at an average of 1.2 million songs per day. He said iTunes now take up 70 percent of the overall market share in the 15 countries where iTunes is available.

"We have just begun the era of digital music," Jobs said.

Tripp believes that the latest member of Apple's iPod family will be a "category killer" for other music players in the market.

Apple today revealed the iPod shuffle digital music player which is smaller and lighter than its older iPod siblings. The player, which comes in 512MB (AU$149) and 1GB (AU$229) models, is priced in the same range as other music players in the market.

"It's the category killer. It looks good and it's your own personal radio with a top 200 playlist and you can change it anytime you want. No commercials, no jocks and no dud songs. I think people who will be scared about this new product would be the radio stations and the people who are marketing crappy mp3 players that look horrible, sound horrible and are not as compelling," Tripp said.

He believes that the iPod shuffle will not have a positive or negative impact to the local Australian music stores since the available music sold online is not compatible with the Apple format. Tripp believes iTunes will happen in Australia very soon.

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