The music section of the iTunes Store may soon be available in Russia, according to an invitation-only iTunes event scheduled for the evening of Tuesday, December 4 in Moscow, reportedly obtained by TechCrunch. The move would bring commercial music content to the Russian iTunes Store — which currently distributes only apps, public domain books, and podcasts — for the first time.
The launch of commercial content in Russia via iTunes has been anticipated for several months. Russia Today reported in early September that a deal between Apple and Russian recording companies and copyright organizations would be complete by “the last quarter of 2012 or the first quarter of 2013.” It was further revealed by a November report from RIA Novosti that an iTunes Russia launch had originally been scheduled for October before being delayed “indefinitely” in mid-November. It is therefore unclear if Tuesday’s event in Moscow will mark the immediate launch of the service or merely unveil it, with a public launch coming next year.
Apple’s absence from the Russian market is significant. Data from GP Bullhound in April 2012, reported by TechCrunch, revealed that Russia was Europe’s largest Internet market, with 53 million users. The country also had an Internet growth rate over twice that of Europe’s average, 14 to 6 percent.
Apple’s official entry into the Russian market could also stimulate hardware sales. Android-based devices dominate the Russian market, with the iPhone capturing just 2 percent.
Numerous sources also indicate that the future iTunes Store in Russia will be priced to combat music piracy, which is rampant in the country. Russia Today reported in September that songs on the Russian store will be “offered for purchase at a lower rate than in America.” 9to5Mac discovered in mid-November that pre-release entries for songs on the Russian store were priced between 11 and 20 rubles, equivalent to about US$0.35 to $0.65 and far below the $0.99 and $1.29 prices common in the U.S. store.
The Mac Observer has contacted Apple requesting comment on the matter but has yet to receive a reply.
Teaser graphic made with help from Shutterstock.