Apple Inc. has launched a music streaming service in Japan, a development that will intensify competition in the market and could herald the start of a new way to choose and listen to music.
Apple Music is a single app costing ¥980 (S$10.73) a month that offers a music library of about 30 million songs, from classic oldies to the latest hits. Free until the end of September, the streaming service is included in a new iOS software update for iPhones and iPads released by Apple on Wednesday.
Users can search for artists, pick songs to listen to and download the ones they like. Apple has also prepared playlists sorted by genres like jazz and rock, providing a convenient way to discover new musicians and songs. The voice recognition function also simplifies the process - just say to your device, for example, "Play the most popular song from 1982."
Apple Music streams music data sent over the Internet, allowing music to be streamed regardless of the memory capacity of devices.
The tech giant revolutionized the global music industry when it launched iTunes, which allowed users to purchase and download music.
But in Japan, CDs and physical formats with special add-ons still account for about 80 per cent of all music sales.
The flat-rate music distribution service is closely being watched as a new music market. In Japan, Line Corp. and NTT Docomo Inc. already have a foothold in this area.
Observers are watching to see if Apple's arrival will completely transform the market.