updated 09:40 am EST, Mon January 28, 2008
Sony-Ericsson this morning revealed an aggressive step into online music with expanded plans for its upcoming PlayNow arena music service. The cellphone producer says it has now struck deals to offer downloadable full tracks from major labels EMI, Warner Music, and its sibling Sony BMG as well as larger independents such as The Orchard and X5. This will add up to more than five million songs available for owners of Sony-Ericsson handsets, the company says. No details have been given as to whether the catalog will extend to the ordinary PlayNow service already available today, which sells some full music as well as ringtones.
An initial launch for PlayNow arena is scheduled for May of this year for Sony-Ericsson's Scandinavian home region and will debut in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden as part of a simultaneous release. More European countries will join in June while the Americas, Asia, and Europe at large will gain access during the summer. Additionally, 250 games from EA and other major mobile developers are being added to the service.
The signings provide Sony-Ericsson one of the most complete mobile music catalogs available today and place the company into more direct competition with Apple, whose iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store for the iPhone effectively mirrors the 6 million-plus songs available from the company through its computer front-end. Universal Music Group is conspicuously absent from Sony-Ericsson's offering as the label is joined with Nokia's Comes With Music service, which will factor a music subscription into the cost of yet to be announced handsets.