Microsoft Expands MSN Music Store Download Service
Microsoft expanded its MSN Music Store to eight new countries yesterday, crossing the border into major European countries that iTunes staked its claim in during its U2 fueled EU push in October. With this expansion the MSN Music Store is now accessible in 17 countries while iTunes is in around 13 countries at the moment.
According to Microsoft, its new download stores in Spain, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland followed an agreement with music download distributor Loudeye. While in Northern Europe Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway the new MSN service will partner with retailer CDON.com. Microsoft forecasts that with a larger reach in 4 more countries and growing, along with the popularity of Windows Media Player and MSN, they have a chance to overtake Apple’s music store in the number of songs sold.
“If you take all the new countries, we expect to overtake iTunes very soon because we will have a larger user base to tap,” MSN’s Arndt Salzburg told the Reuters news agency.
Microsoft also hopes that the expansion and hopeful dominance of the MSN Music Store will lead to more downloads of Microsoft Media solutions and also drive more traffic to the MSN Network and MSN Search, which are funded by online advertising.
Will Microsoft and iTunes be the only players in the digital download arena? Chances are not. Virgin Music and Wal-Mart have launched their own music download search stores while Yahoo recently acquired Music Match and is also still working with Napster. Speaking of Napster, yesterday they announced a smartphone partnership where Napster MP3 and music downloads can be automatically downloaded to a cell phone and replayed – a high step above ringtones. RealNetworks also has its Harmony Music Download Service which launched at a price slashing $.49 per download