Sony Ericsson PlayNow arena to sell DRM-free music, hints at PlayStation Phone

Mobile phones

sonyericsson-logo.jpg />Y’know how Nokia recently announced its plans to become a services-focused company rather than a pure hardware manufacturer? And y’know how a big part of that is its newly-opened Nokia Music Store and soon-to-relaunch N-Gage games platform? Well, two can play at that game.

Sony Ericsson just announced something called PlayNow arena. Yes, that’s their lack of capitalisation in the second word. Cutting through the blather, it’s basically a mobile content store, accessible on Sony Ericsson’s phones but also on the Web, which is a significant extension of the company’s low-profile PlayNow service.

Full-track music downloads will be a key part of PlayNow arena, taking on the Nokia Music Store head-on (not to mention iTunes). Sony Ericsson says its store will tie in closely with applications on its phones like TrackID, which is a Shazam-style music recognition service. The theory is you’ll use TrackID to work out what a song is, and then in one click go to PlayNow arena to buy it.

Although Sony Ericsson hasn’t given lots of details on tech specs, it does say that PlayNow arena will “support MP3 and Windows Media DRM-enabled devices, regardless of manufacturer”. However, it also says “the majority of the music catalogue will be offered in DRM-free format”.

Then there’s the games. PlayNow arena will be selling hundreds of mobile games too, and Sony Ericsson says mobile gaming will be “a key area within the PlayNow arena”. Now, this could just mean Java and Symbian games, but for the gossipmongers among you, it could be a first step towards selling games for a new PlayStation-branded handset – something that’s been much rumoured in recent months.

So when can we have a go in PlayNow arena? There’s the rub: not until the second quarter of 2008, unfortunately. Still, it’s something to look forward to.

Stuart Dredge
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