Apple's has rolled out the iTunes Music Store to nine more European countries, and promises to open for business n Canada next month. The Asia-Pacific region seems to be the next logical target, but will Apple be able to win over this challenging market?

Yankee Group analyst Mike Goodman suggests that Apple may face cultural and market issues in the region.

Speaking specifically of Japan, he told NewsFactor: "For a Japanese version of iTunes Music Store to work Apple will need to be sensitive to the unique dynamics of the Japanese marketplace. Although Japan has a reputation for being gadget-happy, its citizens tend to adopt products made by domestic companies, such as Sony."

Microsoft's experience with the Xbox gaming console in Japan is a case in point. The Xbox had done well did well in the United States and Western Europe, but failed in Japan. Goodman said: "It did horribly because Microsoft did not provide users with the sort of games they like. The Japanese tend to prefer fighting games that stylistically have the look and feel of Japanese anime ... rather than the sort of shoot-'em-up or racing games Westerners tend to go for."

He predicts: "In order for iTunes to avoid Xbox-like pitfalls and have a successful iTunes Music Store launch in Japan, Apple needs to provide Japanese consumers with a strong library of Japanese music from top Japanese record labels and pop stars."

Everybody needs good neighbours

Canada has just one month to wait until it had access to the iTunes Music Store. Some Canadian's must have felt somewhat left behind as its neighbour America seemed to forget about them, concentrating instead on rolling out the store across Europe.

Goodman believes that the delay was justified. He explains: "Canada may be the second-largest country in the world as far as land mass, but its population is skimpy." In 2001 there were 30 million people living in Canada, that's half the UK's population.

"It's all about scale. Apple is going to go to places where they can gain more traction, and so it makes sense that they would want to secure the EU countries first," Goodman told NewsFactor.

Canadian's may not have such a long wait before the first Apple Store opens in the country.

AppleInsider is reporting that Apple is set to open its first retail store in Canada soon.

According to AppleInsider sources, Apple in the final stages of a leasing agreement with the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. This is the third largest shopping centre in Canada.