Tomorrow’s Apple Media Event In Russia Hints At Possible iTunes Store Launch

TechCrunch is reporting that Apple is holding an iTunes event in Moscow tomorrow, anticipating a possible launch of iTunes music store in Russia. The source apparently received an email from one of Apple’s PR contacts in Russia, inviting a small group of people to an iTunes event on the evening of December 4.

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The report says that the email simply notes that team iTunes will be holding a musical evening at a small, invitation-only affair at one of the city’s swanky shopping centers, GUM, located on Moscow’s Red Square. Since the launch of iTunes in Russia has been expected for quite a while now, the event being held tomorrow could just be “something to whet people’s appetites” for what’s coming next, adds the source.

Offering iTunes music could also help Apple push its bread and butter business of hardware. Android-based devices are the most popular smartphones in the country — with iPhone just at 2 percent penetration, according to one estimate I’ve heard.

But on the other hand, Russia presents big challenges. The country is notorious for music piracy, with the Intellectual Property Alliance naming Russia as one of its worst offenders when it comes to illegal, unauthorized content. One of the big delays for Apple in launching iTunes has apparently been negotiations with music labels over rights for the store.

While Russia has long been ignored by Apple for its music service, digital music has already proven to be very popular in the country, with companies like Yandex and Opera already offering their own music services in Russia.