iTunes launches in South Africa

On Tuesday, Apple launched music sales in the South African version of the iTunes Store, bringing a range of local albums, songs and music videos as well as access to the popular iTunes Match service. Media downloads have been expanded to 56 new markets.

iTunes Match allows Apple to scan users’ music libraries and match songs for playback from its servers. The service costs R199.99/year. Music not in the iTunes Store can be uploaded for playback and download to supported devices.

The launch of the South African iTunes store follows Apple’s move in October to price applications in the local App Store in rands rather than US dollars.

South African users can now purchase songs and albums in the iTunes store from both international and local artists. South African artists such as Desmond and the Tutus, Zahara, Springbok Nude Girls, 340ml, Simphiwe Dana, Brenda Fassie, Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Mango Groove are available.

Consumers can also buy selected music videos. Tracks cost R6.99 each, with album prices varying. Prospective buyers can preview 90 seconds of a track by hovering the cursor over the track number and clicking the play icon that appears.

South African users cannot yet purchase movies, series or games from the iTunes Store and it is unclear when or even if this functionality will come to the local version of the store. There has been talk in the market that a full-service offering is coming soon.

Apple’s launch of a local music store comes just weeks ahead of plans by Microsoft to launch Xbox Music in South Africa. Microsoft SA MD Mteto Nyati told TechCentral in October that the service would be launched before the end of the year. Microsoft had been hoping to launch it at the same time as Windows 8, but missed this deadline because it was still finalising agreements with local record companies and artists. – TechCentral NewsCentral Media

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