Apple announced Wednesday that it has rolled out Apple Music, iTunes Movies, and iBooks in China. Apple’s music-streaming and radio service will also be available on Android this fall and free with a three-month trial membership, after which it’s 10 RMB per month ($1.5). The company said it will include a strong lineup of Chinese artists as well as its international roster.
We knew early on that Apple would tweak its music-streaming service price plans for different markets, but $1.5 per month for China does seem incredibly low. It clearly wants to get a strong foothold in the market and beat out existing music-streaming offerings from the likes of Tencent’s QQ Music, which are similarly priced.
Neil Shah, an analyst from Hong Kong-based research firm Counterpoint, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that a $10 monthly subscription for the likes of Apple Music and Spotify would be too high a price point for consumers in Asia. “In Asia, the pricing needs to be near free or around $2-$5 per month to hit the sweet spot,” he said. He also said that Apple Music will have to trump local rivals on features and content to have a good shot at stealing market share.
“Apple Music in China features music from artists including Eason Chan, Li Ronghao, JJ Lin, and G.E.M., as well as a wide range of international artists including Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and many more,” Apple said. More major record label artists are to be added regularly. Meanwhile, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services, Eddy Cue, said that the App Store in China is now the “largest market in the world for app downloads.” The music, movies, and books offered in China are curated by a “local team of experts,” he added.
Apple is also giving away a free download of recent hit film The Taking of Tiger Mountain in China. The Twilight books will be available in Chinese language on iBooks. This year, for the first time, Apple brought China forward into the first wave of iPhone launch markets alongside the likes of the U.S. and U.K.