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Napster schedules UK launch

End-of-summer release

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Napster will launch a service dedicate to UK music buyers by "the end of summer", the company revealed today.

Such a date puts it behind Apple's iTunes Music Store, which is expected to launch in Europe during Q2. The Apple service is also expected to cover a number of European territories and not just the UK.

However, Napster's country-by-country scheme will have made the appropriate rights negotiations more simple. It is also targeting Europe's largest market and the world's third largest after the US and Japan. UK CD sales continued to grow throughout the industry's P2P crisis of the early noughties.

To date, the only download service active in Europe is O2, which has close connections with the music industry. Commercial P2P company Wippit is slowly adding major-label catalogue: most recently it signed with EMI, its second major label.

Napster parent Roxio - which already has a UK presence - said it had appointed one Leanne Sharman as general manager of the UK version of Napster. She's no relation to Sharman Networks, we trust.

The service's UK incarnation will feature localised content, genres and promotions, the company said. No word yet on pricing, however. ®

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