iTunes finally available in New Zealand [+audio]

By Joanna Hunkin

Music lovers and computer geeks woke up to an early Christmas treat this morning - iTunes is now available in New Zealand.

Rumours that Apple was planning the launch began circulating last month, but no one from the computer conglomerate would confirm the whispers due to the company's silent launch policy.

On Saturday, the Herald speculated that iTunes was likely to launch in New Zealand on either Wednesday or Thursday this week.

This morning, suspicions were confirmed as a press release heralded the launch of iTunes overnight.

Apple's vice president of iTunes, Eddy Cue, said: "We're thrilled to bring the iTunes Store and the online Apple Store to our customers in New Zealand just in time for the holidays."

With more than 2 million songs on offer, iTunes will offer New Zealand's largest catalogue of online music. Songs can be downloaded for $1.79 each.

The site will also offer music videos, albums, audio books and iPod games for download.

New Zealand artists Fat Freddy's Drop, Bic Runga, The Datsuns and more have all signed on to have their music distributed through the site.

Rianz chief executive Campbell Smith told the Herald last month he believed the advent of iTunes in New Zealand would refresh people's appetite for music.

"It's wrong for people to steal music. We don't need to say much more than that. But it makes it easier for [the record industry] when we can say please don't do that, here's a viable, legal, and safe alternative to stealing. Until recently it's been hard for us to do that.

"In the record business the consumer is king and you have to be able to make product accessible. To be able to do that in more ways than we have in the past is good for us and them."

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