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APPLE'S ITUNES LAUNCHES IN EUROPE

Downloaders will have a choice of over 700,000 songs...

APPLE's iTUNES online music service launched in the UK, France and Germany today (June 15), offering downloaders a choice of over 700,000 songs to download from their Internet store.

Songs will be priced at 79p in the UK (99 cents in France and Germany) and follows in the footsteps of the popular US service, through which users downloaded more than 70 million songs in its first year.

Tracks can then be downloaded onto a computer, copied onto a CD or played on a iPod digital music player.

Most albums will cost £7.99 and users can also enjoy services including free 30-second previews of every song in the store, exclusive tracks, pre-release singles, songs recorded by artists especially for iTunes, as well as one-click downloading.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs said: "The number one online music store in the world has finally come to the UK, France and Germany. With a huge
catalogue of over 700,000 songs, breakthrough prices of just €0.99 and £0.79 per song and seamless integration with Apple's wildly popular iPod, we think this is the digital music store that Europe has been waiting for."

Today's launch, which took place in London's Billingsgate Market and featured a performance by Alicia Keys, means that iTunes is now available to the UK, France and Germany, who already account for 60% of music sales in Europe.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs also announced that they are working on an EU-wide store which will launch in October.

iTunes have secured online deals with the five major labels - Warners, BMG, EMI, Universal and Sony - but as yet have not managed to finalise agreements with many of the independent labels.

This means that users will currently not be able to able download music from artists such as White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand, and Badly Drawn Boy.

Apple's iTunes will face competition from Napster in the UK - which launched on May 20 - and OD2's European services.

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