Sony Ericsson set to launch Apple iPhone rival next year

Service will enable users to download songs directly to their phone

Sony Ericsson has confirmed plans to launch a new mobile music service it hopes will rival Apple‘s iPhone and Nokia‘s Comes With Music service.

PlayNow Plus will allow users to download music directly to their phone without using a computer. It will be feature on future Sony Ericsson Walkman handsets.

PlayNow plus will be powered by Omnifone, a provider of music downloads for mobile network operators including Vodafone.

Unlike Nokia‘s Comes With Music service, licensing terms for PlayNow Plus allow users to download DRM-free tracks from artists associated with the ‘big four’ major labels (Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, EMI Music and Warner Music Group), plus some independent labels.

PlayNow Plus mobiles will come pre-loaded with 1,000 free tracks, while the ‘Keep Your Favourites’ option enables users to keep a high number of tracks once their contract with Sony Ericsson ends.

The service will launch in the UK some time next year.