Telenor Sweden will be the first to launch MusicStation, a flat-rate music download service, today, ahead of a planned rollout of the service across Europe, Asia and Africa over the next few months. MusicStation can be accessed on ‘almost any handset’ in Europe and Asia, according to its UK-based developer Omnifone, and costs around EUR3 per week including charges for data use and unlimited downloads. MusicStation has backing from handset manufacturers Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Samsung, around 30 mobile network operators, the big four major music labels Universal, Sony, EMI and Warner as well as several independent labels.
The launch pre-empts the arrival of Apple’s iPhone in the US on 29 June. The iPhone will give users easy access to Apple’s iTunes online music store, building on the success of the company’s iPod portable music player. iPhones will retail for around USD499 (although free with certain contracts). In contrast, manufacturers plan to start producing ‘mid-priced’ handsets that have been pre-loaded with software to access MusicStation.