Apple has opened a version of its online store for mobile phone users in Japan.
The service is available to owners of most handsets sold by NTT DoCoMo and KDDI's Au unit, which together account for about 82 per cent of all wireless Internet subscribers in Japan. The version for Au's EZWeb service launched on March 28 and the NTT DoCoMo iMode site went live on April 1, Apple said.
The site offers for sale all models in Apple's popular iPod digital music player range, the recently launched Mac mini computer and iPod accessories. Prices are the same as those offered by Apple's conventional Web site.
Apple said that cell phones and the wireless Internet are used by people in the same market segment in which the iPod is popular.
No decision has been made on whether to expand the site to include other products. Such a decision will depend on how well it is received by potential customers, a company spokesman said.
By opening the store Apple can potentially reach a much larger customer base.
In Japan, around 74 million people had subscriptions to one of the country's three wireless Internet services as of the end of February, according to data from the Telecommunication Carriers Association. In contrast, the number of people who access the wired Internet from home was estimated to be around 22 million in 2004, according to a report published in June by Access Media International.
Users of compatible cell phones can access the service at http://applestore-mobile.jp . Users of non-compatible cell phones or other browsers will see a page advising them which handsets are compatible.