Industry insiders have provided conflicting reactions to reports which suggest Apple Computer will launch its iTunes Music Store in Japan this August.

Industry insiders have provided conflicting reactions to reports which suggest Apple Computer will launch its iTunes Music Store in Japan this August.

One well-placed source says: "The soft launch is set for late July/early August, while the 'real' launch will take place later in August."

The source notes that the reported ¥150 ($1.41) per-song price level could pose a threat to telecom operator KDDI's Chaku-Uta Full mobile-based song-download service, which charges ¥100-400 ($0.93-$3.75) for individual MP3-quality tracks.

An Apple Japan spokesman declined to comment.

A separate label source, however, casts doubt on the claims. “Negotiations are still taking place and nothing is confirmed at this point,” he says.

Similar reports on an impending iTunes launch in Japan have proven unfounded.

Protracted negotiations between Apple and local labels over pricing are understood to be the main reason for the delay in launching iTunes in Japan, the world's second-biggest recorded music market.

Music-download service Mora, which is operated by a consortium of major Japanese labels, offers domestic repertoire at ¥210 ($1.97) per track and international repertoire for ¥240 ($2.25) per track; non-Japanese catalog product sells for as low as ¥158 ($1.48) per track.

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