After spending the last few months releasing new devices and services, Apple is making a huge push in December, particularly in the countries that don't yet have its products. Just one day after announcing plans to launch the iPhone 5 in 54 different countries in December, Apple is holding an iTunes-based event in Moscow on Tuesday, aimed to usher the iTunes Store into Russia and 55 other countries around the world starting today.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company confirmed the news with a Tuesday press release.
"Apple today announced the iTunes Store in Russia, Turkey, India, South Africa, and 52 additional countries featuring an incredible selection of local and international music from all the major labels and thousands of independent labels," the company wrote in its presser, noting that the store is currently featuring "local artists including Elka in Russia, Sezen Aksu in Turkey, AR Rahman in India, and Zahara in South Africa, international artists including The Beatles, Taylor Swift and Coldplay, and world-renowned classical musicians including Lang Lang, Yo Yo Ma and Yuja Wang."
The full list of countries receiving the service today includes:
- Europe: Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine
- Africa, the Middle East and India: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Egypt, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, India, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Swaziland, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Zimbabwe
- Asia Pacific: Fiji, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
- Latin America and the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago
Even though Russia has long been off the map for Apple, TechCrunch's Ingrid Lunden gives a potential explanation as to why the service is only now arriving in Moscow:
"On the one hand [Russia] has huge potential: Figures from GP Bullhound in April noted that Russia was already Europe’s biggest Internet market, at 53 million users. But with a monthly growth rate of about 14 percent (compared to 6 percent on average in Europe) that figure will be even bigger at this point," Lunden wrote. "Added to this, digital music has already proven to be very popular in the country, with companies like Yandex offering music services, and Opera just the other day making Russia the first market for its own foray into selling digital tracks."
The arrival of Apple in Russia comes at a great time: Russia, according to the Intellectual Property Alliance, is one of the worst offenders when it comes to music piracy and the transfer of illegal, unauthorized content. It's certainly helped Cupertino in its negotiations with the country's various music services, but these negotiations are likely what created the delays in bringing iTunes to the country in the first place.
Citing the company's last 10-K, Apple reportedly generated $7.5 billion in fiscal 2012 from the iTunes Store alone, but will likely make significantly more over the coming year considering how the number of countries that support the digital store have essentially doubled.
The iTunes Store received a major redesign with the release of iTunes 11, which now resembles the experience on iOS. Even though most of the features have stayed the same, users can now see their entire viewing history, making it easy to view anything you've already previewed.
"The iTunes Store has been redesigned for your Mac, PC, iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, so it looks and works the same wherever you shop," the company says on its website. "Easy-to-browse shelves serve up popular music, movies, TV shows and more. And all the features you know and love are even easier to get to. It’s the best kind of shopping -- simple."
iTunes currently offers a catalog of more than 26 million songs, and, as of September, customers have purchased 20 billion songs in the last nine years. At Apple's September media event, Cue also said iTunes boasted more than 435 million accounts with credit cards or other payment options attached, which means they can purchase music, movies and TV shows with Cupertino's successful 1-click purchasing method.
With today's news, the iTunes Store is now supported in 119 total countries. More than 155 countries already have access to the App Store, which offers more than 700,000 apps for consumers to download.