If you talk to most media-junkies, they'll tell you that morals only come second when it comes to downloading media. It's lack of affordable original content that drives the piracy industry in India in the first place. It's some progress then that Apple Inc decided to finally launch an India-based iTunes app last week. I checked it out to see if it's an option that most of us will keep coming back to time and again. The new iTunes launched is downloadable from the company's official Web site as a 85 MB file. The download took us about 20 minutes, and once downloaded the setup was fairly quick and simple.
All media categories — Music, Movies, App Store, Books and Podcasts are lined right at the top of the interface. I checked out a couple of music albums first. Based on genres, you can lookup your favourite artists or albums in this section. Being India-based, the first category on display is `Bollywood Music', which actually includes film audio albums across regional film industries in India. I was actually glad to see that prices, even for the latest releases, were fairly reasonable (considering once I purchase them, I can play them across multiple Apple devices.) Costs, predictably, went even lower with older movie albums. For example, six soundtracks from Mani Ratnam's 1995 hit 'Bombay' were available for Rs 72. If you want just a couple of songs, then you have to cough up a meagre Rs 12 for one! Not bad considering it's the original stuff!
Similarly, choices are aplenty in the Movies section as well. Almost all the movies are priced at Rs 190 (to buy) and about Rs 80 (to rent) The Dirty Picture in HD, for example, cost about Rs 390 to buy and about Rs 120 to rent but Eat, Pray and Love cost about 100 bucks more to buy. iTunes in the Cloud lets you download your previously purchased iTunes music to all your iOS devices at no additional cost, and new music purchases can be downloaded automatically to all your devices.
There’s also iTunes U where you can check out educational resources. I took a small 5-minute Spanish language class just for the heck of it! It’s fun and useful to have quick access to a bunch of resources like these.
While trying out all the sections, the loading times were pretty decent on our office broadband connection. The new India-based iTunes thus makes available a lot of media which we wouldn’t have had access to at the rates they are being marketed for. Not if we wanted to stay legit, anyway!