Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares bounced up just shy of their jaunty 52-week high today, as shareholders got an earful of rumors that Apple's popular iTunes music-downloading site could launch in Europe as soon as June 15.

According to Reuters, Apple released a statement saying that it will hold a press conference in London on June 15, claiming, "the biggest story in music is about to get even bigger." It does sound fairly certain that it would imply that Apple's iTunes is about to take on Europe.

Apple won't be the first to offer music downloads overseas. Roxio's (NASDAQ:ROXI) Napster has been offering its now-legal music-download service in the U.K. for a month now. Sony (NYSE:SNE) plans to hit up Britain, Germany, and France with its Connect download service sometime this month.

Normally, I would say that Apple's coming in a little late to the game. Allowing competitors to enter a market first is often a recipe for disaster.

However, Apple's been a success story with its range of music products, and it has really built the brand to beat in the industry in a very short time. Considering the popularity of the iPod and the absolute feeding frenzy that accompanied the launch of its small counterpart, the Mini, it's worth it to bet that the anticipation -- and at times, lack of supply -- associated with Apple's musical devices hasn't hindered business. In fact, it's helped drive the mania.

I've made it no secret that I'm an Apple aficionado; every one of my home computers has been an Apple since I was 18 (back in the days of black and amber screens, floppy disks, and dot-matrix printers, no less). I've been constantly impressed with its ongoing ability to make classy, appealing, technological products. The success of iTunes and the iPod family of products has been a very pleasant surprise.

However, Apple shares were recently trading just shy of their 52-week high, at $29.54, or 48 times its 2004 earnings estimate. In fact, Apple's share jumps over recent months have been shake, rattle, and rolling a little too much for comfort. Investors don't look for the rock-and-roll lifestyle -- given competition and the changing aspects of this new angle to the music industry, and continued relative sluggish growth in its core computer offerings, days like today don't seem like wise times to take a bite of Apple shares.

Will Apples iTunes be a smash hit in Europe? Doesn't this company make computers anymore? What do you think its next consumer electronics home run could be? Strike up a conversation about any of the above on the Apple discussion board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. She's still pretty well hooked on old-fashioned CDs, and her car still has -- gasp! -- a cassette tape player.