Wed, Aug 24, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Apple launches its Podcast Directory service in Taiwan

BY JASON TAN  /  STAFF REPORTER

Apple Computer Inc yesterday introduced a broadcast feature to its red-hot iPod digital music players in Taiwan, hoping to secure a bigger market among music lovers locally.

The feature, Podcast Directory service, is an audio program that users pull off the Internet and download onto digital music players or similar devices for listening to at their leisure.

"We are working with 10 radio stations here and consumers will be able to listen to them over at iTunes within a month," Yeo Eng Yiong, Apple's product marketing manager for portables in the Asia-Pacific region, said at a media briefing yesterday.

These radio stations include UFO Radio (飛碟電台), Kiss Radio, Broadcasting Corp of China (中廣) and International Community Radio Taipei (ICRT), he said, adding that the company may add more partners to the service at a later stage.

Besides the 10 channels, the service in iTunes, its digital music software and online music store, features over 3,000 free overseas audio programs, making it one of the largest Podcast directories in the world, featuring favorites such as ABC News, BBC, Disney, ESPN and Newsweek.

According to Yeo, integrating broadcasting with digital music players has been gaining popularity among consumers over the last two years. The company therefore incorporated this new feature in iTunes in June this year, "hoping to offer more content to users," he said.

The company claimed that just two days after the launch of its Podcast Directory in the US, iTunes customers have subscribed to more than 1 million Podcasts.

According to Yeo, over 20 million iPods have been sold worldwide as of June. He declined to reveal the sales figures in Taiwan.

According to the latest statistics from research company GfK, iPod is Taiwan's No. 1 digital music player in terms of sales.

Despite reaping great profits from iPod sales, Apple is still hesitant to bring its iTunes Music Store to Taiwan, because local consumers are still downloading songs via peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing Web sites instead of using online music stores.

A court ruling that favors P2P file-sharing platforms further scares prospective online music vendors from entering the market.

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