Apple’s iTunes Music Store offers Japan’s largest library; Napster plans April 2006 launch in Japan

“Apple Computer Inc. launched its iTunes online music store in Japan on Thursday, bringing its leading download service to the world’s second-largest music market by album sales,” Nathan Layne reports for Reuters.

“‘We’ve got a lot of Japanese content on the store and we’ll be adding even more as the months go on,’ Apple CEO Steve Jobs told a packed news conference in Tokyo. ‘We think it’s going to set the standard for online music pricing in Japan.’ Jobs said the Japanese version of iTunes would have the market’s largest library of over 1 million songs. That is about five times as large as Mora’s collection and 10 times bigger than competing services run by Yahoo Japan Corp, Excite Japan Co. Ltd. and Oricon Inc.,” Layne reports. “Tower Records Japan Inc. and the Japanese unit of Napster Inc. announced on Thursday they would establish a music downloading service, eyeing a launch next April.”

“Apple has sold about 22 million iPods since their introduction in October 2001, making it by far the most widely used digital music player in a market research firm In-Stat expects to nearly quadruple to 104 million units a year by 2009,” Layne reports. “Apple controls about three-quarters of the U.S. market for digital music players and has a top market share of about 36 percent in Japan, although Sony has started to make some inroads in its home market with a popular flash memory device. Some analysts have cited the lack of iTunes in Japan as a major reason Sony was able to secure 27 percent of the market for flash-based players in May and June, knocking Apple’s iPod Shuffle to second place according to research firm BCN.”

Layne reports., “Apple hopes the introduction of iTunes in Japan will boost sales of the Shuffle, as well as its hard drive players. ‘Clearly this is going to create renewed interest in music by all Japanese music lovers and that’s going to bring attention to both iTunes and the iPod,” Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPod product marketing, told Reuters. ‘Overall we are hoping for the entire iPod product family to benefit from what we are doing with the music store.'”

Full article here.

Related articles:
Apple’s Japan iTunes Music Store debut more bad news for Sony – August 04, 2005
Apple launches iTunes Music Store in Japan – August 03, 2005
iTunes Music Store Japan? Apple to hold ‘special music event’ in Tokyo on August 4 – July 26, 2005
Apple to launch iTunes Music Store in Japan this August – July 15, 2005
Sony grabs Japan flash-based music player lead from Apple ahead of Japanese iTunes Music Store – July 14, 2005
Reports: Apple to launch Japanese iTunes Music Store in ‘near future’ – April 13, 2005


  1. ah.. call me arrogant and elitist.. but I actually feel sorry for Napster now…

    a year late..

    going up against apple in the music business? yeesh..

    okay.. i don’t feel sorry enough to wish the misery of naptser upon anybody..

  2. I love how Microsoft refuses to support Mac OS X with the latest version of Windows Media Player, while Apple continues to eat Microsoft’s lunch by giving away iTunes for Windows.

    If Microsoft released the current version of Media Player for Mac OS X, then all of the non-iPod products could compete head-on with the iPod as a cross-platform music player.

  3. Apple may be making a simultaneous promotional push all over Japan in conjunction with the launch. Yesterday, the day of the iTunes Japan launch, I went to the Bic Camera electronics store in Yurakucho and was surprised to see iPod Shuffle posters plastered all over every floor, iPod videos playing on big screens on every floor, and a group of special salespeople wearing Apple-logo shirts standing at the entrance to the MP3 player section. I suspect that they were the vanguard of Apple’s counterattack, and that Sony may find its market share lead has evaporated by next month . . .

  4. I am proud to report that the iTunes Japan store does not require any credit card! All you need is one of the prepaid cards, which are on sale at Apple Stores as well as at many independent stores. I created a new account without providing any credit card information. (I have no way of knowing whether they check IP addresses, however.)

  5. i think this is good news for Japan but I’m not sure how much of an impact it will have. Unlike most other countries, Japanese can rent the full CD for 200 yen and copy it at home. That compares with iTunes charging 150 yen for one song.

  6. Actually rental CDs run from 250 yen to 290 yen, and the latest releases are never available for rental. You have to wait a few months. So assuming that all you want is one song off the album (often the case), the true comparison is between 150 yen at iTunes versus 250 yen at the rental store for the older releases, and 200 yen at iTunes versus a CD purchase (1500 yen or more for an album, less for a CD single) for the latest releases.

    If you want more than one song off an album, then the economics are different, of course . . .

  7. Napster’s destiny is to be acquired by another company. They obviously can’t survive as a “pure play” music company (unlike Apple who has hardware sales or Real who has their codec and player), but they could fit as part of another company’s overall music strategy. Their customer base may be pathetic compared to iTunes, but it’s too big to let go to waste. Trust me, someone’ll buy ’em.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.