iTunes Store now in India, Indonesia

Apple iTunes Store has expanded into 56 new countries, including India and Indonesia which were not among the 12 Asian markets the online store was previously launched in.

Initially left out when Apple made its iTunes Store available in 12 new Asian markets last June, users in India and Indonesia--along with 54 other countries--can now buy digital content in their local currency from the iTunes Store.

Besides the two Asian countries, the iTunes Store also launched in Russia, South Africa, and Turkey, and is now accessible in 119 nations worldwide, according to Apple's statement Tuesday. Users can purchase music from a variety of local and international artists as well as rent movies and TV series.

The major expansion comes as Apple's flagship digital content hub faces stiffer competition from alternative services launched by Google and its YouTube site, and niche streaming providers such as Spotify and Netflix, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

It also comes about a week after Apple released its latest update to the iTunes program. iTunes 11 saw a complete and streamlined redesign and received mixed reviews, with some criticizing it for being unnecessarily complex. But it still does not offer a streaming subscription service, the report noted.

Adrian Drury, media analyst at Ovum, said in the report the iTunes Store expansion to developing countries underscored Apple's belief these markets were ready for electronic distribution of media, and the company had sold enough iPhones, Macs, and iPads in these markets to justify the effort.

"What is great about many of these new markets is that they don't have the same competitive threat as more developed markets. The flip side, of course, is Apple will face competition from locally developed services, as well as high usage of [Google's] YouTube," Drury added.

In India, the Apple iTunes Store faces competition from the likes of Nokia Music Store and the Flyte music store by domestic online retailer Flipkart, said a Business Standard report.

Apple priced individual songs start from 7 rupees (US$0.13) and music albums from 70 rupees (US$13), which is cheaper than in the U.S. where tracks typically cost US$0.99 each. Flyte's prices start from 9 rupees (US$0.16) for each song download, while Nokia Music Store offers unlimited music subscriptions but no individual downloads, it added.

Over at Indonesia, songs are priced between 5,000 rupiah and 7,000 rupiah (US$0.52 to US$0.72) and albums between 45,000 rupiah and 65,000 rupiah (US$4.69 to US$6.77), according to a post by Daily Social.

In June when the iTunes Store opened in 12 Asian countries including Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Malaysia, the absence of India, Indonesia and China was notable.