This is huge. Epic. Apple has launched its iTunes music and movies store in India. Customers in India can now buy legal high quality music and HD movies from iTunes at a very reasonable price. They can also rent movies in HD on their iPad, iPhone, IPod touch or Apple TV. The music collection seems to be huge, however, the movie collection is limited to few Bollywood movies and a handful of Hollywood movies.
Songs from new and popular albums are priced around INR 12 each which is lower than flipkart’s flyte’s pricing for same tracks. This makes a complete album to be priced around INR 100 (assuming 8 – 9 songs in an album on average). This is a very decent pricing and considering the fact that it is lower than flipkart’s price, it is a huge deal. The biggest advantage with iTunes store is that users can buy content directly on their devices. This was not possible with flyte as Apple does not allow in app purchases without cutting a 30% share. Another big plus is the ability to download purchased songs any number of times on any device.
The movie collection is currently in a very nascent stage and is expected to grow well. While browsing casually, I could find some popular Bollywood movies and very few Hollywood movies. The pricing is also very decent for movies. With INR 490 & INR 290 to buy HD & SD movies respectively (bye bye Blue Ray), or INR 120 & INR 80 to rent HD & SD movies respectively. Movies once bought can be downloaded or streamed to any of your device any time you want. Rented movies are available for 30 days to start watching, and then you have 48 hours to finish watching them before they expire.
With this launch, Apple has also launched its awesome iTunes Match service in India. Priced at INR 1200, this service lets you scan and match all the songs you might have procured from other sources and then make those available in iCloud to be played/streamed on any of your Apple devices. I have been using this service (though my iTunes US store account) for the past year and can certify for its awesomeness. Although it can be used to legalize your pirated MP3 collection, the biggest advantage is the seamlessness and the convenience it offers. You add a song to your music library, update iTunes Match and its instantaneously available on all your devices, ready to be downloaded or streamed. No syncing needed. And it works over 3G!
Apple was already selling apps and iBooks in India. Launch of the iTunes music & movies store confirms the fact that Apple acknowledges that India is and will be a huge market for its products and services. The aggressive pricing also indicates that they have done their homework well and understand what needs to be done in a market which is extremely price conscious and rifed with piracy. Coupled with the convenience and seamless ease of use Apple devices offer, these services are surely going to make a dent in the digital market in India. Rivals like flipkart flyte & rumored amazon need to buckle up and up the ante in order to compete with the biggest digital media retailer in the world.
Here is the official press release by Apple confirming the launch: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/12/04Apple-Launches-iTunes-Store-in-Russia-Turkey-India-South-Africa-52-Additional-Countries-Today.html
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