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Apple punts prizes as iTunes nears 100m-song target

Plus: latest Euro stores' sales figures

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Apple today announced it will hand out a 17in PowerBook, a 40GB iPod and 10,000 free songs to whoever downloads track number 100m from the iTunes Music Store (ITMS). As well as getting punters busily buying songs, the announcement may take a little attention away, perhaps, from Sony's new 'iPod killer' hard drive-based Walkman, launched today.

The giveaway begins sooner: whoever downloads song number 95m, and every 100,000th track after that, will receive a free 20GB iPod. Apple expects the first winner to be chosen sometime tomorrow.

The 100m target is something of a mixed blessing for Apple. It's a key goal, no doubt, but one the company had expected to reach within a year of ITMS's April 2003 launch.

But despite missing that deadline, Apple remains the major online music player. The company claims a 70 per cent market share. And having sold some 1.5m songs in the UK, France and Germany in the first two weeks or so since opening for business here, Apple is going a long way to replicating its US success.

By contrast, it took European online music pioneer OD2 - now part of Loudeye - thirteen-and-a-half weeks to rack up 1m downloads at the start of the year.

Meanwhile, Apple is expected to announce a 60GB iPod shortly after its hard drive supplier, Toshiba, inadvertently said it was gearing up to ship 60GB drives to the company.

The iPod Mini is expected to go on sale in Europe and the Far East this month; Apple was forced to delay the product's introduction in these territories because of restricted supplies of 1in HDDs. ®

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