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Monday, October 24, 2005, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Apple launches iTunes store in Australia

A link to an Australian version of Apple's industry-leading iTunes download service went live on Monday evening, ahead of a formal press event set to take place at 9:00 am in Sydney.

Already, several iTunes users have reported success in browsing and purchasing content from the store. According to the reports, Apple is offering songs and videos for (AUS) $1.69 and $3.39, respectively. Albums fetch a respectable $16.99 including GST.

Unsettled licensing agreements between Apple and Sony BMG Australia have reportedly forced the iPod maker to launch without the Sony BMG music catalog, which accounts for an approximate 25% of the world's commercially available music.

Still, iTunes vice president Eddie Cue and iPod marketing chief Greg Joswiak are expected to present at the 9:00 am event, providing the details of the service launch and possibly adding some content-related announcements.

The new music store is expected to feature exclusive music tracks from Australian artists Missy Higgins, Bernard Fanning, Paul Mac, Evermore, Gyroscope and The Dissociatives. Additionally, the store will offer the full catalogues of INXS, Hunters & Collectors, Paul Kelly and Slim Dusty.

Reports of an imminent iTunes Music Store launch in Australia date back nearly twelve months, but consistently failed to ring true. Following a failed launch attempt in April, the Courier-Mail reported that Apple's plans had been thwarted by one unnamed major record company that refused to sign an agreement.

The unnamed major record company now appears to be Sony BMG.