iTunes now playing across Asia
Apple aims to add a greater selection of Asian digital content to its iTunes Store, which was rolled out in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and nine other markets across the region yesterday.
Hong Kong users now have a choice of more than 20 million songs from local, international and independent labels to buy and download, as well as hundreds of movies from the major Hollywood studios to rent or buy. Previously, most Apple users in Asia only had access to the iTunes media player programme, which provided access to Apple's online App Store.
An Apple spokesman said the firm was 'looking to add more content', especially now that the service was available in more locations across Asia. 'The catalogue is growing all the time,' he said.
Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures is expected to become one of the major content providers from Asia. 'We are currently in discussions with Apple on making selected titles from Celestial Pictures' Shaw Brothers Film Library, the world's largest Chinese film collection, available across Asia,' a spokeswoman said.
Most of the current movies available are from Hollywood studios 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros Pictures.
Apple currently does not offer Chinese-language television programmes from the big local networks and television series producers, which could present an opportunity for the likes of Television Broadcasts (TVB).
Apple introduced its online digital media store in April 2003, but until yesterday it was available in just three Asia-Pacific markets - Japan, Australia and New Zealand - due to lengthy negotiations with record labels and piracy concerns in the region.
Prices for downloading a song range from HK$5 to HK$8; and HK$30 to HK$73 for albums. Prices of movie rentals and purchases also vary. For example, a high-definition (HD) version of the sports movie Moneyball rents for HK$28 and its standard-definition (SD) version for HK$18. The HD version sells for HK$158, while the SD version is priced at HK$118.
Meanwhile, Apple has won an injunction against Samsung Electronics in America, where sales of the Korean firm's Galaxy Tab media tablet have been halted.