iPod rapidly concurs Walkman motherland

There is nothing like taking a major battle to you rival's own turf. That's exactly what Apple's Steve Jobs has just done by launching an iTunes online music store into Japan.

Apple with its iPod digital player is rapidly stealing Sony's mantle for being the top purveyor of mobile music (with its Walkman range).

According to Bloomberg News, Jobs said, "The iPod had a 36 per cent share of Japan's portable music player market at the end of June compared with 74 per cent of the US market. We're going to try harder and get our market share even higher."

iTunes will have around one million tracks available in Japan from around 15 different Japanese labels. However, it will face stiff competition from Mora, an online store in which Sony has an interest, reports Inquirer.

According to Guardian, globally, the iPod is outselling Sony's portable game and media console, the PSP, Mr Jobs said. Sony sold about 2 million PSPs during the last quarter, while Apple says 6 million iPods were sold over the same period.

Mr Jobs said he hoped to repeat the success iTunes has enjoyed in the US, where it accounts for more than 80% of legally downloaded music. Apple has sold 22 million iPods worldwide since its launch in October 2001, and more than 500 million songs in 19 countries through iTunes.

Mora, the music download service used by owners of Sony players, charges an average of 200 yen a song but the company denied it had been outwitted by Apple, saying many of its own downloads were just as cheap. Japanese iTunes subscribers will be charged ¥150 a song for 90% of those on offer.

"Apple's announcement is creating a big stir here, and so we see it as a good opportunity for the music download business to expand," said Kazuo Washimi, a Mora spokesman.

Meanwhile, iTunes' competitor Napster has announced plans to set up its own Japanese download service in partnership with CD shop Tower Records.

Napster said the service would be "carefully tailored to local tastes and rich in Japanese repertoire" and would be launched in the next 12 months, informs BBC News.

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