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Sony Ericsson announces PlayNow music service

As expected, mobile phone company provided details about the service designed to compete with Nokia's Comes with Music

Mobile phone company Sony Ericsson announced Tuesday that it will launch a new music service called PlayNow Plus, which will feature unlimited music downloads.

As first reported by CNET News, the new service will be powered by British music-download firm Omnifone, and will feature music from all four of the largest recording labels, the company said in a press release.

PlayNow Plus will compete with Comes with Music, the music service launched by Sony Ericsson rival Nokia earlier this year. And out of the gate, PlayNow can offer a more complete music library than Nokia's offering. EMI has yet to join Comes with Music.

But Sony Ericsson may not give away as much music as Nokia. According to the press release, Sony Ericsson will eventually offer users 5 million songs, which will be wrapped in digital rights management software, and keep them for the length of their contract. After their contract ends, the company will allow them to keep "a number" of DRM-free songs.

According to a report from Dow Jones, Martin Blomkvist, Sony Ericsson's manager of content acquisition said PlayNow Plus users can keep 100 DRM-free songs for each six months of their PlayNow contract. In comparison, Nokia allows users to download as much music as they want for the 12 months and keep those songs forever. The music is indeed swaddled in copy-protection schemes.

Both services are designed to help boost the sagging music-subscription market. The music industry is attracted to phone-based music because people already pay for a host of services, such as data and text messaging. The recording companies hope phone users won't mind paying a monthly fee for music.

Sony Ericsson will launch the PlayNow service in a few weeks and then roll it out in other countries beginning in 2009.