On Monday, August 25, Sony Ericsson launches its much heralded PlayNow Arena with a million DRM-free songs available – a number that will eventually swell to five million. It will draw on the back catalogues of Sony BMG, Warner Music, and EMI as well as offering games, ringtones, applications, and themes for downloading.

The launch will initially be to the Nordic countries with Western European countries following later this year before the service goes global in 2009. Tracks are expected to sell for a similar price as those found on Apple's iTunes service ie around $0.99 / €0.99.

New directions

Martin Blomkvist, Sony Ericsson's head of content acquisition and management, said recently that offering digital music without rights or copying restrictions and games will help pull users toward the new site, boost income, and stimulate handset sales.

"If we together don't work for finding ways to take away the obstacles of legal downloads, then, this industry from a digital perspective is going to die," he said.

"Had we only done music, we wouldn't have done this," Blokvist added. "The way it is set up today, very few people, apart from the record industry, are getting rich on digital music.

The global mobile music industry is worth $4.43 billion and is expected to rise to $13.11 billion by 2011. The gaming industry is expected to grow to $6.31 billion from $4.51 billion during the same period.