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Apple to host media event in Tokyo

Apple Computer on Tuesday began inviting select journalists to a special music event in Tokyo that is expected to deliver a Japanese version of the company\'s popular iTunes Music Store.

The event will take place on August 4, at 10:00 am at the Tokyo International Forum, according to Macworld.

Japan represents the largest international music market unconquered by Apple\'s industry leading iTunes download service.

The iPod maker began meeting with Japan\'s major music labels in 2003, but saw negotiations progress at a minimal pace until this year. The two parties entered into a near two-year standoff over licensing terms when Apple demanded that its Japanese iTunes music store be able to sell music tracks for the the equivalent of US $0.99, sources said.

Japanese music services at the time were charging over double that rate, as the average cost of an audio CD in Japan hovered around US$30. Unwilling to surrender 50 percent of its profits to meet Apple\'s terms, the labels initially shied away.

Apple wasn\'t bluffing either and instead sat back, betting on its industry dominance to overthrow the resistance of the labels. The company figured the labels couldn\'t swim against the tide forever.

In June, the Nihon Keizai business daily reported that Apple and Japanese record labels Columbia Music Entertainment Inc., Avex Group Holdings Inc. and Toshiba-EMI Ltd., had agreed on licensing terms for the service that was scheduled to launch in August.

It remains unclear on what precise terms Apple and the labels have agreed, but insiders believe the two parties met at the middle (or somewhere around US$1.40 per song). Analysts expect the iTunes services to be competitive with existing Japanese services, which charge between US$1.50 and $3 per track.

Apple\'s iTunes Music Store currently reaches more than 70 percent of the global music market with stores in 19 countries, including the US and Canada, and more than 500 million songs purchased and downloaded worldwide.