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Briefly: R.E.M. at Apple Store; iMac inventories, iPhone music apps

One of the pioneers of the alternative rock scene will play an exclusive set next week at Apple's flagship retail store in London. Meanwhile, retailers are attempting to clear out stock of current generation iMacs. And Apple will reportedly disallow third-party iPhone music apps.

R.E.M. signs on for Live From London gig

R.E.M., arguably one of the most prominent alternative rock bands of the 80's and 90's, will mark the third anniversary of Apple's "iTunes Live From London" series next week with an exclusive performance at the company's Regent Street retail store in London.

Michael Stipe and Co. will perform tracks from their new album Accelerate, due for release at the end of the month. Recordings from the show will later be released exclusively as digital downloads from the iTunes Store.

As was the case with a similar gig featuring Linkin Park at Apple's SoHo flagship shop in Manhattan last month, entry to the event will be extremely limited and not open to the general public. Instead, the show will be made privy to about 450 selected fan club members and winners of competitions run up by XFM and the Evening Standard.

The performance will take place Wednesday, March 26th at an undisclosed time (likely after hours).

Trimming iMac inventories

Several international Apple resellers are offering promotions aimed at clearing inventory of current iMacs ahead of refreshed models that will see the all-in-one desktop systems adopt the same 45-nanometer Intel mobile Penryn processors as the Mac maker's MacBook lines.

In particular, John Lewis is offering current generation iMacs with a free copy of Microsoft Office Student and Home Edition until March 29th. However, the upscale UK-based department store lists two of the three standard retail configurations as being out of stock.

Similarly, Canada-based Future Shop is promoting unusually steep discounts of between $50 and $100 Canadian dollars on the entire iMac line. The retailer held a similar sale on MacBook Pros in the weeks leading up to their most recent refresh.

iPhone's iTunes APIs not open to developers

It's being report that any functionality related to music playback on the iPhone will be off limits to third-party developers using the company's new iPhone SDK.

While the kit allows access to phone, camera, and Internet functions, all components with ties to iTunes are inaccessible, preventing developers from accessing one of the most popular features of the handset.

It's speculated that the restriction may be a means to blocking alternatives to the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store which could potentially nibble at Apple's music sales. Alternatively, it could be an unfortunate side-effect of measures aimed at stifling creation of enhancements to music functions, such as native versions of the iLike or plug-ins, MacNN reports.