The iTunes Store finally opens in Singapore, but the news is a bittersweet one for Apple-holics.
Apple recently whisked us off to Hongkong, where we were promised a big announcement that would rock our world. We hoped it would be the new iPhone 5, but that’s rumoured to be coming out only in October. Any attempt to pry more information out of the tight-lipped organisers was met with steely “If I tell you, I’ll have to kill you” composure.
So what was the big news? Well, you’ve probably already heard by now that the iTunes Store, which first launched in the US in 2003, is finally available to Apple-holics in the rest of Asia (it was already available in Japan, Australia and New Zealand). After all, Apple is estimated to have shipped 35 million iPhones and iPads in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) last year. And at long last, one year short of a decade (apparently, intellectual property rights were a minefield to navigate in Asia), we’re finally feeling the love from the US tech giant. Well, except India and China who’re still left in a lurch.
So what’s the big deal about the iTunes Store, you ask? If you’re a music lover, it’s like manna from heaven after nine years of being stuck in aural purgatory. You finally have access to over 20 million songs in the iTunes Store catalogue which features Asian artists like Karen Mok, Jay Chou and Girls’ Generation, and international artists like Adele, The Beatles and Jason Mraz. And it’s all legal. There’s no need to circumvent Apple’s geo-restrictions to access iTunes Stores elsewhere or risk getting slapped with hefty fines for downloading music illegally. It also means you may no longer need to buy CDs (if you're still doing that, that is). Albums are priced between $9.98 and $12.98 (shops here sell CDs for around $20). And you can buy single songs for $1.28.
But for movie buffs, bookworms and fans of US TV shows, news of the launch is significantly less juicy. There’s still no way around censors here, so movies you buy or rent (it costs $4.98 to rent a movie and up to $24.98 to buy a HD movie) from the iTunes Store are still going to be subject to MDA’s ratings. Even then, there also aren’t many titles on offer at the moment. Popular US TV shows and eBooks are also not available. You may not be able to download the latest season of Glee on your iPhone, but you can now buy its soundtrack from the iTunes Store. That's some consolation, right?