Those with a bent for technological gadgetry are well catered for in Hong Kong, where product launches are seemingly an everyday occurrence. The sense of being on the cusp of the world of technology is therefore badly shaken when a product or service available elsewhere is inexplicably absent from the marketplace here. Such is the case with Apple's iTunes Shop, which on Tuesday added to the might of its musical offerings in the US with movies - and continued to be out of the reach of the majority of users of portable digital music players in Hong Kong. This is a reminder to those who perceive themselves to be living in a city at the centre of global trends that there is sometimes a sizeable gap between perceptions and reality. iTunes is an inseparable software component of Apple Computer's best-selling iPod player and is often included with new computers. Users in Japan, North America, Europe and Australia can use credit cards or pre-paid iTunes music cards to buy and download music through iTunes from one of the world's biggest, widest and most up-to-date catalogues. With movies added - albeit for now, only from Disney - a mouth-watering entertainment feast is in the offing. Those here fortunate enough to have a foreign credit card or who know someone with one, or to have returned from an overseas trip with an iTunes card, can download the latest and greatest through iTunes for as long as their credit holds out. Those without make do with lesser download services. Apple has gained a dominant share of the portable player market in Hong Kong through heavy promotion of its iPod. Users installing iTunes on their computers as part of the iPod setup procedure are made well aware of the possibilities afforded by the software. They quickly learn, to their dismay, of the limitations. Digital entertainment is a highly competitive market and Apple is tight-lipped about its plans; when its regional public relations representative was asked yesterday about the unavailability of iTunes shopping for Hong Kong credit card holders, her response was that the company 'does not comment on the availability of iTunes in countries'. Given such a response, we can only speculate as to why iTunes is unavailable here. Use of the word 'countries' will fuel speculation that Apple is mixing Hong Kong in with the rest of China and that concerns about piracy and legal and business practices might be colouring its decision to launch iTunes. If this is the case, those in Apple's corporate headquarters need to be educated about the 'one country, two systems' model Hong Kong has been operating under since 1997. There may be other reasons; whatever they are, those involved in making iTunes shopping unavailable in Hong Kong should keep in mind that the city is not a remote technological backwater.