Apple announced on Wednesday it was launching Apple Music, iTunes Movies, and iBooks in China, a significant expansion in digital media in the world's largest market. Apple Music in China will be priced well below the U.S. price, at just 10 CNY, or $1.57 per month. Apple Music will also offer the same 90 day free trial offered in other markets.
Movie rentals are priced at 5 CNY, or just $0.79, while 18 CNY ($2.83) will buy a movie. In addition to offering free titles, paid iBooks will start at 0.5 CNY, less than $0.08.
"Customers in China love the App Store and have made it our largest market in the world for app downloads," Apple senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue said in a statement. “One of the top requests has been more great content and we’re thrilled to bring music, movies and books to China, curated by a local team of experts.”
Apple faces barriers to adoption in China, starting with a lack of brand recognition in content outside the App Store. Chinese users are also used to paying little or nothing for a lot of content, as local businesses offer a wide variety of pirated material. Mainstream coverage of this Chinese launch for Apple has focused on these headwinds...
...but this is Apple we're talking about. The company owns an aspirational brand in China and iPhones are extraordinarily popular. Apple's price point for Apple Music is also very low, and that could be just the ticket to turn some of its customers into paying customers, just as the original iTunes Store turned the tide in piracy in the U.S. more than a decade ago.