Apple still aims to launch a European iTunes Music Store this year, but admits that it won't be rolling it out until it is "perfect".

Apple Europe vice president Pascal Cagni told Reuters that the launch of the music-download service is so important for the future "that a few months' delay" will not concern the company.

He explained: "When we launch in Europe, we want to do it well. There can be no compromise on the ease of use, the depth of the catalogue or the responsiveness of the Web site."

Cagni noted that it is more complicated to align music publishers in Europe than in the United States: "There are massive differences in price – it can vary with a factor of two, and the taxes in countries are different." Cagni criticised publishing houses that have failed to negotiate rights with artists, producers and editors, according to Reuters.

Sales of the iPod seem to be unaffected by the lack of download service – according to Cagni, Apple Europe saw sales of iPods increase at almost the same rate as the global average.

He also expects to see a boost in July when the iPod mini ships in Europe: "That's one of the big growth opportunities. It offers a new price range which is important in Europe where consumers are price sensitive."

Consumers have already raised concerns about the pricing of the iPod mini in Europe. The UK price is currently set at £199, the European price is €299. In the US people pay $249, which translates to £137 (€206) at today's exchange rate.