Sony Ericsson will unleash yet another music-bundled value-added proposition when it launches the W995 in July, though the details vary slightly from the offerings of its competitors.
PlayNow Plus will be sold as an add-on to a new mobile phone contract for an amount as yet to be decided by the participating carriers in Australia, and this will enable unlimited music downloads from the PlayNow service to your associated Sony Ericsson handset. This is similar to the offer Nokia will launch in March.
The major differences between these services will be about what you get to keep. Nokia's service lets you keep everything downloaded during the contract period, while music downloaded using PlayNow Plus is only active during the period your subscription is financed. A spokesperson for Sony Ericsson made it clear that users will be able to continue paying for the service beyond the original contract period for their handset.
To sweeten the deal Sony Ericsson has two aces up its sleeve. Firstly, the handset you buy will come preloaded with 1,000 music tracks selected by Sony Ericsson. These tracks are selected by region, meaning you will get 1,000 of the most popular tunes in your region at that time. Also, Sony Ericsson will give you the option to upgrade the 100 most played tracks you've downloaded in your library to DRM-free MP3 files at not extra cost. So while you will lose the ability to play the other tracks you've downloaded after your subscription expires, you will have the equivalent of 10 full CDs to keep after each six months of service.
Tracks downloaded over the air to your handset will be delivered in the highly compressed EAAC+ format, each weighing in at approximately 1MB. Sony Ericsson is working with the carriers to ensure all downloads from the PlayNow service are free of data tariffs for PlayNow Plus customers. The service also comes with a PC Client to access the store from your home computer.