Days before Apple is expected to launch the long-awaited iTunes Music Store in the UK, Apple vice president of hardware product marketing Greg Joswiak told MacCentral that the store has topped 85 million downloads.

Britons have legally downloaded 500,000 music tracks already this year, according to the British Phonographic Industry. This figure is likely to grow substantially as it did not include details of recently launched Napster UK, and Apple's iTunes Music Store is also likely to have an impact over the next few months.

In May Apple announced that the US-only iTunes Music Store had sold 3.3 million songs in the week following the release of iTunes 4.5.

According to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the iTunes Music Store already accounts for 70 per cent of legal music downloads in the US.