Well it seems that it was true after all. According to this article in the Asahi Shinbun, at a presentation on 4th August in Tokyo, Steve Jobs announced the launch of iTMS Japan, the company now having concluded negotiations with 15 major record companies for the supply of around 1 million tracks, although that figure will grow. The delay in launching is attributed solely to negotiations with record companies dragging on.
Songs are priced between ¥150 and ¥200 (£0.76-£1.01; $1.34-$1.79), somewhat more expensive than those sold at the American iTMS and possibly also those of the UK. Apple, the article notes, had wanted to have one price for all tracks, but faced opposition from record companies and performers’ organisations. That said, it appears that 90% of the tracks are to be priced at ¥150.
Apple has reached agreements with Avex Tracks, Toshiba EMI and Columbia Music Entertainment, although Sony Entertainment – the biggest record company – is still holding out, as Sony is pushing its own service, Mora, which currently provides something over 150,000 tracks for OpenMG-compatible players. Yes, it’s not even WMA – Sony are that proprietary.
It is hard at this stage to say if or when Sony will come on board. Anyone remotely familiar with the company will know that they have a history of doggedly sticking to their own technologies (Memory Stick and ATRAC spring to mind, but there are plenty of others), despite facing superior competition. In the past, their reputation has allowed them some leeway, but this battle maybe one that they cannot win.
Apple’s press release (in English) announcing the launch is here.