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Tomorrow's European iTMS Launch Garners Headlines; Microsoft Moves First

Tomorrow's European iTMS Launch Garners Headlines; Microsoft Moves First

by , 9:00 AM EDT, June 14th, 2004

Apple's impending launch of the iTunes Music Store in parts of Europe is garnering headlines even before it launches. Today's Financial Times of London has a report on both Napster and Apple, as the two companies prepare to fight for position in the European market. In the report, Apple is largely painted as the favorite in advance of Apple's press conference to be held tomorrow in London. From the article:

Apple, whose iTunes store and iPod digital music player have all but defined the US internet music market, has scheduled a press conference in London tomorrow, claiming "the biggest story in music is about to get bigger."

One person in the industry said Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, was expected to be on hand to announce Apple's music store would immediately be available to consumers in the UK, Germany and France. Mr Jobs was also expected to announce plans to eventually roll out the service to other European countries.

"There's clearly been a lot of pent up demand for it. I think it will have a pretty good reception," said the person.

At the same time, Reuters is reporting that Microsoft beat Apple to the punch by a day. The wire service reports that Microsoft unveiled SonicSelector in its own press conference today, a service developed in conjunction with European market leader OD2. SonicSelector will be built into Windows Media Player, with the content provided by OD2. From the article:

The announcement comes as OD2, long Europe's dominant download firm, and Microsoft brace for the European arrival of the iTunes Net music store, a launch that is expected to jumpstart Europe's tiny music download market.

[...]

Until recently, OD2 dominated the small European download market as it was one of the few services to have signed licensing agreements from all five major music labels including EMI, Universal Music and Bertelsmann's BMG.

But it now must contend with well-financed rivals. For this purpose, OD2 is using the massive installed base of Microsoft Windows Media Players to get a jump on iTunes, Napster and Sony Connect.

There's more information in the full articles:

The Mac Observer Spin:

The European battle is going to be an interesting one. When Apple pushed commercial downloads into overdrive last year, the result was a ton of competitors -- from MusicMatch, BuyMusic.com, the well-publicized launch of Napster, and eventually even Wal-Mart -- pouring into the market as fast as they could.

By way of contrast, the European market is currently under the control of long-time dominant player OD2, and it's only the two biggest names in the US, Apple and Napster, plus Microsoft, which itself has not directly entered the US market at all, that are trying to leap The Pond.

The opening salvo for the European market was fired by Napster last month, and Microsoft has snuck in a day before Apple, but we think Apple is still going to take the early lead. There's just too much momentum behind the iTunes Music Store.

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