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Apple Wins $.99 iTunes Tussle

Apple Computer Inc. on Tuesday said it had renewed contracts with the four largest music labels, a move that will likely keep prices on its iTunes Music Store at $.99.

The music industry had been pressuring Apple to adopt a flexible pricing plan in which newer hits would cost more than 99 cents, older tunes less. According to a report in the Financial Times, however, recording labels had not been able to push Apple off its position. Last year, Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs called the music business "greedy" for demanding higher prices.

The Wall Street Journal confirmed that four major labels -- Universal, Warner, EMI, and Sony BMG -- had signed renewal contracts with Apple.

According to Nielsen/NetRatings, traffic on the Cupertino, Calif. company's iTunes online store soared 241 percent in 2005, with the number of unique visitors to the site reaching 20.7 million in December.