Apple’s iTunes Store, launched as a part of Apple’s free iTunes application for the Mac in 2003, has finally opened its doors to India. As of yesterday, Indian users can now buy music, movies and books (notably, no TV shows yet) through the iTunes Store on Apple devices. Apple has historically shown reluctance in fully opening itself to India—each of its iPhones release in India several months after their US launch; the iPhone 5 is yet to come. Even opening the iTunes Store may come too late. Several other companies—notably Nokia—have already established a strong hold over the Indian market. Nokia Music, for example, is the largest online music repository in India, with around 1.4 million song downloads a day. Apple, as a newcomer, could have a tough time breaking into this market.
That said, the iTunes Store does come with some advantages. First, its database is just gigantic—many multiples of the 4.5 million songs Nokia music offers. Second, the fact that it is the overwhelming global market leader, with a market share of around 69% in online music sales, has to count for something. And finally, the prices. While many analysts expected Apple to offer dollar prices in India, the actual prices on the Indian store are quite reasonable—R12-15 per song, and around R290 to buy even the latest Bollywood movies like Ek Tha Tiger. Apple might be late to the India party, but it’s going to put up quite a fight to grab market share from the incumbents.