Rumors earlier in the week suggested that Apple Inc. (AAPL) was looking to roll out their iTunes in the Cloud services to its Japanese users, and on Wednesday, Apple did exactly that. This allows Japanese users to freely download previous content from the iTunes Store.
A report from 9to5Mac also revealed that AAPL included a number of other features to the Japanese iTunes Store, including iTunes Plus, 3G downloads, Ringtones, and Complete My Album. Apple has posted a What’s New page [Google translation] on its Japanese iTunes site, highlighting some of the new features:
– 3G downloads: Music downloads from iOS devices had previously been restricted to Wi-Fi only, but users can now access content over 3G networks.
– iTunes Plus: The Japanese iTunes Store now supports the DRM-free 256 kbps iTunes Plus format, up from the previous 128 kbps versions carrying usage restrictions. Labels will need to upgrade their content to the new standard, so it may take some time for all music to become available in iTunes Plus format.
– Ringtones: Music ringtones are now available for purchase in the Japanese iTunes Store.
– Mastered for iTunes: Rolling out on a worldwide basis, Apple is now featuring songs and albums that have been specifically mastered for the iTunes Store to provide the best sound quality for the format.
– Complete My Album: Users who previously purchased individual tracks from an album can now purchase the entire album for a discounted price based on a credit for their individual-track purchases.
With the latest update, Apple has not brought over almost all of the new features, except the iTunes Match service, currently available in only 37 countries. The iTunes Match service allows users to match or upload their entire music libraries to access from any iCloud-enabled device.
Apple has not commented as to whether they will bring over that service to the Japanese iTunes Store, but reports suggest that Apple is looking to bring over the service during the first half of 2012. A large part of Apple’s revenue stream now comes from Japan and China, only two of the countries in Apple’s Asian market.