It’s been a massively long wait – ten years all told – but finally the iTunes store is coming to Russia by the end of the year, and what’s more, it’s set to be significantly cheaper than its US counterpart.
The news was first broken by the Russian language business daily Vedomosti, which reported that Apple was in the middle of negotiations for licenses to sell media content in that country, and hoped for a launch by the end of this year, or at the latest, in the first quarter of 2013. According to Vedmosti, Apple will only go ahead with the launch once it has secured copyright deals for all of the content it plans to sell, as it aims to provide one of the most comprehensive media catalogues around.
No doubt one of the difficulties for Apple is securing rights to local hits from Russian music acts, as these are by far and away the most popular. Although there are around 4 million downloadable tracks on Apple’s biggest rival service in Russia, Yandex.Muzika, only 50,000 or so are from Russian bands/singers, yet these account for just over half of all downloads.
In order to remain competitive, the Russian iTunes will be considerably cheaper than what we’re used to, with tracks expecting to cost between $0.30 and $0.60 each, compared to $0.99 in the US.
Apple has yet to make any official comments on the matter, although such a move would fall in line with the company’s previous strategy, which saw it open iTunes stores in 15 Latin American countries last Christmas, followed by a number of Southeast Asian countries earlier this summer.
According to PaidContent.org, Russia is desperate for a legitimate digital music downloads service, as the country is plagued by piracy, much of which takes place quite openly on popular social media sites like vKontakte and others.