iTunes Goes International. Big Deal.

by Gregory Ng Jun 16, 2004

So the iTunes Music Store is finally available in the UK, France and Germany. I have a feeling that the success the store has had in the US will not be duplicated in Europe. “Why?” you ask. Because of four simple letters…RIAA. A big reason why the iTunes Music Store is so successful here in the states is because the RIAA has scared enough people with their lawsuits, into buying music again. For some music lovers who were addicted to downloading through Napster, Kazaa, and Limewire, the thought of fines and

even jail time scared the limp bizkit out of them. Yes, there are plenty of people who still commit the illegal activity of online piracy by sharing and downloading songs, but for those who were riding the fence of immoral and illegal, the iTunes Music Store gave an alternative that was safe and somewhat more affordable. And there’s nothing else out there for us Apple users. Napster isn’t Mac compatible yet and let’s face it, the iTunes Music Store is pretty easy to use.

But the threat of RIAA lawsuits only stretch to the far reaches of the United States. In Europe it’s open season. In fact most popular programs like Kazaa are based off US soil for that very reason. So why would Europeans bother to pay for music now?

Is it for the iMix feature? I don’t think sharing playlists is enough incentive to start paying for music.
Is it the Party Shuffle? Please.
Is it the Audiobooks? Whatever.
How about the CD Jewel case Feature? As long as there are CD cover websites out there containing high resolution scans of the real thing, why would this feature compel them to buy?
Is it the exclusive songs? I don’t think so. They can just wait for someone to buy it and then offer it up for free.

The point is this is just a reason for Apple to pat themselves on the back on the global expansion of their store. I predict this store will be listed in Apple’s success ranking between the G4 Cube and the Newton.


  • i agree with the point about people “riding on the fence of immoral and illegal”, however i disagree that the RIAA is the biggest reason for the success of the itunes music store. i just don’t see how europeans would be so different from americans in their music-obtaining ethics. i think there are plenty of people just like me over there in euroworld that will simply enjoy the convenience, price, and ease of the itunes music store, and who aren’t upset about losing that whole “having the darn cd case in your hand” feeling. i guess time will tell though!

    nano had this to say on Jun 17, 2004 Posts: 1
  • I think you’re missing the point.  iTMS is popular because of the ease-of-use, quality of music and the collective features available.

    The European market that is now able to use iTunes Music Store is a huge component of the customer base for, yet there has been no marketing by Audible to that market.  So, there’s one feature of iTunes you dismissed that should be highly appreciated by the UK/France/Germany market.

    I think the only challenge faced by Apple with iTMS Europe will be the currency discrepancies (right now between & prices).

    Last, but not least, your contention that iTMS’s popularity in the US is due to RIAA threats is off-base.  If RIAA threats were the cause of consumer usage of legal download services then there would be a more even distribution of market-share among the legal download services.  That obviously isn’t what has happened in the US, so iTMS’s huge market-share is likely attributed to the combined features, easy-of-use and high-quality offered to consumers.

    DF in Boston had this to say on Jun 17, 2004 Posts: 15
  • iTMS will be just as popular in the UK and Europe. First week results of 800,000 tunes is fairly compelling. Although this will tail off, it’s encouraging.

    The issue with prices is a legitimate one, but we’re used to living in rip-off Britian; most things cost more in the UK. London is the 2nd most expensive city in the world to live in (Tokyo is worse).

    I think that the RIAA concern is not that much of a reason for the success of the US market. The British Phonographic Industry is issueing legal cases against illegal file sharers, but it isn’t getting the publicity of the RIAA because it isn’t allowed to be quite so stupid under UK law.

    Dan Ebeck had this to say on Jun 28, 2004 Posts: 23
  • I believe people honestly WANT to pay for their music. I, myself, would prefer to by a couple of songs, downloaded quickly through iTunes, see what they are like, then purchase the rest of the album, compared to buying the full album from a record store, not liking it and putting it at the bottom of the pile. CD’s are so clumsy. Most people buy them and then import them to iTunes anyway!
    Lets face it, the majority of ITMS are singles buyers. They want a quick fix for a dollar. This is the major reason for the ITMS success. If this success can be established in the US, why not the rest of the world?
    Who cares you say?
    I live in Australia. We have been anticipating the release of the ITMS for ages. At the moment ARIA (Australian Recording Industry Association) and the major record lables are holding it back. Who cares? I DO!!
    And so do the rest of the Australasian community.
    This cant fail for apple. The overheads are so low, the profit is reasonably high (not just the music, marketing and apple products will get more exposure), why shouldn’t apple allow other countries the benifit of the apple iTunes music store?

    Who cares? We do.

    - Matt

    Matt Shadbolt had this to say on Aug 06, 2004 Posts: 1
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