Apple’s music streaming service Apple Music has launched in mainland China today, alongside iTunes Movies and iBooks, three months after its launch in the US.
The service will cost US$1.57 a month in China, following the initial three-month trial membership.
In comparison, the service is priced at US$9.99 in the US.
Though China’s price tag seems a steal in comparison to Western markets, Apple has to conquer more than just wallets — rivalry from popular, established players.
Tencent’s QQ Music, for example, one of the most popular services, works like Spotify. Songs can be streamed for free (with ads) or at US$1.60 a month (without ads). While the price of QQ Music is the same as Apple Music, members of the former can tap into an already existing social network and share songs.
Likewise, China’s largest search engine Baidu also offers free music streaming services.
Sean Dismore, Chief Creative Officer of Billboard Radio China, oversaw the launch of Billboard in mainland China May 2015 and sees similarities between the two labels.
“People pray at the alter of Apple, so it is one of those things where if you’re a die-hard fan — and obviously there are millions in China — you’ll follow the brand. There’s also a certain prestige involved with Apple,” Dismore told e27.
“Plus, Apple is testing a service that has been proven to work; it’s not a new model. The biggest obstacle here isn’t if Apple will be successful, it’s what music artists will face, that streaming is the new thing, but that’s a whole other story,” he added.
The seamless experience of having all devices — assuming a user is an avid Apple fan (be it iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch synced over the cloud) — may lure some to pick the company’s services over Tencent’s.
China is also the largest market for Apple’s app store and the second largest for its hardware products, so there’s certainly potential there.
In Hong Kong, Apple Music costs US$6.20 (HK$48), equivalent to the price of Spotify’s premium, ad-free services. According to the official press release, Apple Music will be coming to Android phones this fall.
Apple included China for the first time ever in its iPhone 6s launch last week.