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Apple seeds digital tunes

Tech, record biz insiders hope for quality, ease of use

Apple Computer has slated April 28 as the date to officially take the wraps off its long-awaited digital music subscription service at the Moscone West convention hall in San Francisco.

Service carries the highest expectations from tech and record biz insiders, who hope that the computer maker will imbue the fledgling digital-music sector with the same design quality and ease-of use that made the portable iPod player one of its hottest sellers over the past year.

Apple will go head-to-head with label-backed services Pressplay and MusicNet, which have sustained harsh criticism over the quality of their interfaces and the size of their track libraries — though they have expanded to more than 250,000 over the past year.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company will also have to contend with wildly popular free services such as Kazaa, which has had its peer-to-peer software downloaded more than 200 million times to date.

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