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An Irish version of the iTunes Music Store was quietly launched on Thursday night after Ireland was previously omitted in a euro-zone roll-out in October.

The launch of iTunes Music Store (ITMS) will be welcome news to the many iPod owners in Ireland following the disappointment in October when last minute issues with artists' representative group, the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO), caused Ireland to be passed by in Apple's ITMS euro-zone-wide roll-out.

The Irish store has over 700,000 available tracks, which will include a number of Irish artists, and over 8,000 audio books for download. Users must register their credit card and provide an Irish billing address.The site will also provide Irish users with features such as iMix, a way in which users can publish their playlist; party shuffle, a playlist that automatically shuffles and plays songs from the user's library; and gift certificates. Pricing for the Irish store is exactly as it is in all euro-zone stores - €0.99 per song and €9.99 per album.

Apple has sold over 200 million tracks via ITMS to date. But it has not been all plain sailing: the most recent problem is a lawsuit filed by a US iTunes user who claims that Apple "forced" him to buy an iPod in order to listen to ITMS-downloaded music on a portable device.

In mid-September the UK Consumers' Association called on the Office of Fair Trading to have Apple's iTunes service investigated for charging UK iTunes users more than its European counterparts. In the UK, iTunes charges consumers £0.79 per song, or around €1.20 compared to just €0.99 in the euro-zone. Apple has maintained that licensing laws vary between country and says that it is normal for CDs to retail at different prices in different countries.

© ENN

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