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Japan iTunes August launch report 'untrue'

No, no, no, says Apple Japan

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Reports that Apple Japan will launch a local version of the iTunes Music Store in two months' time are rubbish, the company effectively said today.

Yesterday, Japanese newspaper the Nihon Keizai Shimbun claimed ITMS Japan will launch in August following digital distribution deals reached between Apple Japan and a number of major Japanese record labels, specifically Avex and Toshiba-EMI.

In April, Apple Japan president Yoshiaki Sakito said ITMS Japan would open by the end of the year. The online music service's launch is believed to have been hindered by the reluctance of local labels to allow it to offer music downloads in the way its US and European stores do. They are apparently dissatisfied with the pricing and usage terms ITMS provides its customers.

Two months ago, Apple Japan was re-entering negotiations with the labels, presumably touting its growing strength - ITMS has sold more than 430m song downloads to date, and has an 82 per cent market share in the US - and widening international availability.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun suggested that those negotiations had gone well, with only Sony Music Entertainment - the Japanese division was not part of last year's merger between SME and BMG - holding out.

Except the story is "completely untrue", according to Apple Japan spokesman cited by local website Internet Watch. It did confirm that Apple Japan is still talking to the labels, but it would not comment further.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun claimed ITMS Japan will sell tracks for ¥150 ($1.41/£0.77) a pop. ®

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