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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) made another big push in the high-growth region of Asia after launching its iTunes online store in 12 new countries, though somehow China was still not included. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Brunei, Cambodia, and Laos all got their own iTunes stores. Along with China, Apple also left out India, another notable market for the company.
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Apple uses iTunes to sell music and video to users from its 20-million-song library. iTunes is now considered the most popular music vendor in the world, with over 16 billion songs sold worldwide at the end of 2011. Previously, users in these regions could only access the App Store, which is used to market applications for their mobile Apple devices. Users without access to iTunes could get music or movies only through the use of gift cards bought from another country. Now locally issued credit cards will be valid.
The Asia-Pacific region is becoming increasingly important to Apple’s profit growth. Sales in the region, excluding Japan, rose 174 percent in 2011 to $14.3 billion, which was more than other major markets, including the Americas and Europe. In Southeast Asia, Apple’s mobile products are used by more than 50 percent of Internet users, according to media solutions company Effective Measure. Australia, New Zealand, and Japan already have their own iTunes stores, which has been available in the U.S. since 2003.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has also been trying to expand YouTube in the region and recently launched tailored sites in Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Shares of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) closed at higher $2.47 at $574.50 per share Wednesday.
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