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Sony Ericsson launches unlimited music service

Playnow plus available worldwide next year

Sony Ericsson has launched a new music download service that will let users access an unlimited amount of music for a fixed monthly rate, but only if they have the right operator.

The service, PlayNow plus, will first be offered in Sweden with a global launch to follow next year.

With the launch of PlayNow plus, Sony Ericsson joins the likes of Nokia and Orange in offering music to mobile phones via subscription instead of selling tracks and albums.

But unlike Nokia, Sony Ericsson has decided to work with operators, which it thinks is the best business model, according to Fredrik Månsson, category manager at Sony Ericsson for Nordic and Baltic countries.

The reason is that operators have agreed not to count music downloads on a person's data plan and instead take a share of the monthly subscription revenue. The arrangement removes worries from users that they might incur high data charges.

Sony Ericsson has signed a deal with Telenor in Sweden. At the end of October, the operator will offer a special version of the W902 Walkman phone, according to Tomas Olsson, head of content at Telenor Sweden.

The W902 will come with unlimited access to music for the first six months and 1,000 preloaded songs. Songs will not have DRM (digital-rights management) restrictions. After six months, the user can keep the 100 most-played tunes.

The music service will cost 99 Swedish kronor (£8) per month. The phone and monthly service costs 299 Swedish kronor (£25), and users must sign a two-year contract.

The service will be extended to other phone models during the first quarter next year, according to Olsson. The deal with Telenor is exclusive until March of next year, Månsson said.

Sony Ericsson has the support of EMI, Sony BMG, Warner Music and Universal, but the company doesn't want to elaborate on how much money they will make on PlayNow plus.

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