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Thursday, October 21, 2004, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Apple preparing for iTunes Netherlands launch

A launch of Apple's iTunes music store in the Netherlands is all but set in stone, as the company feverishly works to add Dutch content to its music database.

Apple Computer is not expected to launch its second wave of European iTunes music services until next Tuesday, but already the iTunes music store database is reflecting some telling additions.

According to several tipsters, on Thursday Apple began loading a significant quantity of Dutch content into the iTunes store. In the US, iTunes users can already locate tracks by Frank Boeyen. Meanwhile, European iTunes users have run into Dutch musicians André Hazes, BZN, Blof, Guus Meeuwis, and stand up comedian Theo Maassen.

"These artists create music in the Dutch language and it's not likely that Apple would want to deliver this content solely though the existing iTunes stores," one tipster said. "In other words, expect iTunes to arrive in the Netherlands next week."

Rumors that iTunes would soon arrive in the Netherlands began to surface earlier this summer, along with similar tips on stores in Denmark and Poland.

The iTunes music store will face existing competition in the Free Record Shop, which launched its own music download service in the Netherlands in August. The service claims a music catalog of over 250,000 tracks.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that Apple may also be on the verge of launching its iTunes service in Switzerland and Australia.