A report today says that Apple is planning to launch iTunes Store music downloads in Russia, to tap into their fast-growing internet market.
Business paper Vedomosti reports local music industry sources as saying Apple is currently negotiating for licenses, with launch likely in Q4 2012 or Q1 2013, and tracks priced below $0.99.
The report comes as Apple is said to be also gearing up to launch the iTunes Store in South Africa.
The moves are seen to be part of a broader emerging markets strategy for Apple. The iTunes Store went live in Brazil and 15 other countries in December 2011. That expansion has been credited as one of the key reasons global digital music sales have lifted in recent quarters.
The Russian market is in dire need of an effective legal digital music service. Physical and digital sales are plunging, with digital sales levels falling by 40% last year, down to 2009 levels.
The music industry’s IFPI says: “It is currently being held back by a culture of copyright infringement that is epitomised by the music service run by the leading social networking site vKontakte.” The network includes built-in file-sharing.