LONDON - Apple is set to launch its iTunes music download service in Europe next week more than a year after the service debuted in the US.
According to wire reports, Apple has concluded its negotiations with music labels to license the songs it needs to launch the service, which will arrive after the launch of the Napster 2.0.
Apple is refusing to comment on its plans. However, in a statement it said it would be holding a press conference in London on June 15 at which "the biggest story in music is about to get even bigger".
Speculation is that the press conference next week will be followed with Apple immediately unveiling its live service, allowing people in the UK to download tracks for an expected 99p a track.
In the US, Apple sells tracks for 99c. The 99p price would match that being offered by rivals, such as Napster.
Apple is hoping that the new service will leapfrog existing services already up and running in the UK and Europe, such as Coca-Cola's site, the MSN Music Club, OD2 and Tiscali among others, and repeat the success iTunes has enjoyed in the US, where at its peak Apple sold more than 70m tracks in its first year.
The market in the US is much bigger than the UK, where fewer than 1m tracks are estimated to have been sold so far this year, but that is growing fast, fuelled by personal digital music players, such as MP3 players and Apple's iPod.
Apple will also face competition in the near future from Sony, which has said it plans to launch its recently announced Connect online music store in the UK by the end of this month.
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