Japanese Have Yen For iTunes

Apple iTunes has struck a chord with music fans in the land of the rising sun, selling more than 1 million songs in Japan since it opened its own iTunes Music Store last Thursday, the company said.

“ITunes has become Japan’s number one online music store in just four days,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, said in a statement. “ITunes has sold twice as many songs in just four days as all the other online music services in Japan sell in one month.”

Japan, the twentieth country and the first in Asia where the iTunes service is now available, provided the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker with its most successful launch, Apple said.

It took the U.S. version one week to sell the same number of tracks, according to the company.

Apple has sold more than 500 million songs in 19 countries since it introduced iTunes in the United States over two years ago, and it accounts for 80 percent of all legally downloaded music in the U.S., the company said.

Apple launched iTunes in Japan on Thursday, hoping a combination of lower costs and a huge catalog would win over music lovers.

ITunes is cheaper than many similar services in Japan, with most songs available for download for $1.35, while competition, chiefly from music giant Sony, charges closer to $2 per download.

The iTunes Music Store features more than 1.5 million songs from the major music companies and over 1,000 independent record labels, 10,000 audiobooks, gift certificates and exclusive music, the company said.

The iTunes Music Store in Japan includes a wide variety of Japanese-language podcasts, such as InterFM, Radio SOTOKOTO and Radio Nikkei, according to Apple.

Apple still faces stiff competition for online music money in Japan. In addition to Mora, which is backed by Sony, Yahoo, Excite and Oricon vie for listeners.

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