Apple Finally Brings iTunes Music And Movies To Latin America

Nearly 12 years after it first launched, iTunes Store has gone live in Brazil and 15 other Latin American countries, as the region’s consumer digital content market takes off.

iTunes Match, for syncing library songs not bought through iTunes to multiple iOS devices, gets its first non-U.S. roll-out in Brazil, priced $24.99.

Other countries are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela. iTunes’ App Store was already available in the region.

The store brings 20 million songs at $0.99, albums at $0.99 and more than a thousand movies. Yes, prices are in US dollars for now – customers must be able to pay in American currency. That will limit the potential of this roll-out in the short term.

The interesting thing about the Brazilian market is that a majority (60 percent) of digital sales there are from subscriptions, according to the IFPI. That is unlike most other places, where the dominant digital format is still individual downloads.

  • It is largely because Telefonica-owned Terra launched Sonora, an unlimited subscription music service billed through its ISP service, back in 2006. Sonora went freemium in 2009, gaining three million users in less than a year.
  • Nokia’s Comes With Music was also popular in Brazil, which was its number one market, claiming 10 percent of the Brazilian market. Rdio just brought its subscription service to Brazil through the Oi ISP in November.
  • In effect, what is happening in Brazil, through iTunes’ late entrance there, is the reverse of what is happening in more mature markets, where subscription operators like Spotify, Rdio, Mog and Rhapsody are trying to challenge the dominant iTunes model.
  • Digital made up 17 percent of music sales in Brazil in 2010, according to the IFPI, but digital sales by trade value grew slowly for three consecutive years.
  • The music industry recognised 28 legal music services in Brazil in 2010.
  • The number of albums sold by local artists slumped 80 percent between 2004 and 2008 – those releases fell to just 67 from 625 10 years earlier.

See these slides in which Brazil internet giant Terra’s co-founder says Latin America’s paid digital content prospects are booming because improving economic conditions are creating a larger middle class.