Apple Europe will present a special music-focused event in London on June 15.

The company describes the event thus: "The biggest story in music is about to get even bigger," and is inviting selected members of the press to the event in London. The show starts at 11am.

Apple is likely to announce the extension of its iTunes Music Store into new territories at the show, putting the company in the frame against chief US rival Napster which launched last month; Sony's much-criticized Sony Connect service and existing European services such as OD2 or London's innovative Wippit music service.

At this stage it appears possible Apple will launch its service with an offering of around 700,000 tracks. Napster today announced itself to be offering that number through its service, while Sony Connect will launch with a smaller catalogue here, reports claim.

Pricing for Apple's service is likely to be within the £0.86-£1.09 per track charged by the other digital music distribution services that exist here. Apple has neither confirmed nor denied this assumption.

The UK is the world’s third-largest music market with per capita spending on music exceeding that of other music-buying territories. The UK accounted for 9 per cent of global music sales in 2002 and 8.3 per cent in 2001. In 2002 the UK spent $2.936 billion on music.

In May Apple announced that its US-only iTunes Music Store sold 3.3 million songs in the week following the release of iTunes 4.5. The company has sold 85 million songs since the service launched in the US April 28 2003.

“Our third-generation iTunes Music Store just blows away any other online music service,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs at that time. “With over 700,000 songs and innovative features like iMix, it’s the easiest to use and most fun to use online music store in the world.”