Apple opens iTunes Music Store in Canada

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Apple Computer Inc. has launched its iTunes Music Store in Canada. Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced in October plans to open the Canadian store by the end of November. Apple narrowly missed that deadline after announcing on Wednesday that the Canadian iTunes Music Store had been postponed but would be "coming soon."

"We've got some great Canadian artists in the store right now," Eddy Cue, Apple's vice-president of Applications, told MacCentral. "We're very excited and happy to be in Canada."

This launch marks the 14th country where Apple's iTunes Music Store has been made available. Apple has been operating the iTunes Music Store in the United States since 2003. Earlier this year, Apple launched the commercial music download service in the U.K., France and Germany. At the iPod photo rollout in October, Apple launched the EU iTunes Music Store, which added Austria, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain.

Cue called Canadian demand for the iTunes Music Store "overwhelming" and noted that the Canadian version of the store features top Canadian artist exclusives. The store opens with more than 700,000 songs in its library, priced at CDN$0.99 per song, which represents a savings of about US$0.15 per song over the U.S. store. The store also features approximately 9,000 audio books.

In comparison, the U.S. store has over a million songs in its online library, with about the same amount of audio books available. Apple said the discrepancy has a lot do with label rights, but more songs will be continually added to all stores.

"The U.S. has definitely been a leader," said Cue. "Most of that is because a lot of the labels have better clearance data in the U.S. All stores are growing rapidly -- over time there will be fewer and fewer discrepancies between them, but there will always be some."

Cue also noted that a team of people has been hired in Canada to focus entirely on the Canadian music store and label relations. These people will make sure Canadian artists get on the store as soon as possible.

Songs downloaded through the Canadian iTunes Music Store feature the same personal use rights as iTunes stores in other countries: Songs can be played on up to five personal computers and an unlimited number of iPods, singles can be burned onto an unlimited number of CDs, and the same playlist can be burned onto disc up to seven times.

With the opening of the EU store last month, the Canadian store this month and, of course, the United States, Apple claims that the iTunes Music Store now reaches almost 70 percent of the global music market.

In its latest fiscal quarterly report, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer shared figures that suggest Apple has more than 70 percent share of legal music downloads. iTunes Music Store and iPod-related accessories accounted for $98 million in revenue for the company during the fourth quarter.

"We have very high expectations for Canada -- we think it's a great market for us," said Cue. "We have been very successful with the iPod there and we've had a tremendous amount of e-mails and calls looking for the iTunes Music Store in Canada. We think it's a perfect time to have the store in Canada."

12/02/04 10:45 AM: Updated with details about Canadian store's launch.

12/02/04 3:20 PM: Updated with details from interview with Apple.

This story, "Apple opens iTunes Music Store in Canada" was originally published by PCWorld.

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