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Apple to change European iTunes pricing?

Steve Jobs defends Apple's music strategy

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says his company wants a level playing field for music sales in Europe, despite the European probe which suggests the company has questions to answer over its iTunes pricing policy.

Jobs stressed Apple's position during a press conference in which T-Mobile was revealed as Apple's German iPhone launch partner.

Jobs said: "We think prices should be the same. We think anybody in Europe should buy off any store."

The European Commission is holding a series of hearings with Apple and two of the four major labels. The Commission is investigating prices in the iTunes Store.

It wants to find out why the same track can cost different prices between European territories, and wants to understand by what right Apple and the labels prevent European consumers buying tracks through any European store they choose.

Regulators can fine Apple or the labels up to 10 percent of their worldwide revenue if they find the companies to be in violation of European antitrust law.

Most industry observers and the European Commission believe the labels are to blame, forcing digital music operators to fashion a territorial music selling system, reflecting a tradition in the music business.

But Reuters reports that Apple said there was "nothing in its contract with Universal obliging it to operate national stores or to set a higher price in countries such as Britain".

Apple was represented by Eddy Cue, who heads its iTunes division, and the company's general counsel, Donald Rosenberg.

The case dates back to 2005, when the British consumer association Which? complained that Apple's iTunes stores in France and Germany charged 99 Euro cents (69p) per track, while Britons pay 79 pence.

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