The Japanese version of Apple Computer iTunes Music Store got off to a rip-roaring start with sales hitting 1 million tracks in its first four days online, Apple said Monday.
In contrast the Sony-affiliated Mora service recently said downloads were running at about 450,000 songs per month.
The Apple service was opened last Thursday by Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, at an event in Tokyo and received considerable coverage on local television and newspapers. Jobs said in a TV interview that he is confident that iTunes will become the leading music download Web site in Japan.
Part of the strong start is perhaps due to pent-up demand. Apple's iPod is the top-selling digital music player in Japan and users have had to wait more than two years since iTunes Music Store opened in the U.S. for the Japanese store to begin business.
The launch was held-up by negotiations with local record companies, Jobs said on Thursday.
Apple has lower prices to show for the negotiations. About 90 percent of music offered in the iTunes Music Store costs YEN 150 (US$1.34), compared to between YEN 210 and YEN 315 on competing services like Mora.
However, more negotiations may be needed. Apple has the support of about 15 local record labels at present but many of Japan's top music companies aren't yet on board and that means many of the most popular Japanese acts are missing from the service.