Music Station, a new service offering all-you-can-eat music downloads to mobiles, is reportedly planning to launch in the UK in October.
The Independent says Omnifone, Music Station’s owner, is in talks with Carphone Warehouse over a deal to preload the service onto new handsets.
It started its European roll-out last week in Sweden, offering unlimited access to its database of over 1m tracks for £1.99 a week.
Billed as a rival to Apple’s upcoming iPhone/iTunes combo, as well as other downloading services, Music Station hopes to use partnerships with operators to quickly build scale.
It says it has secured the support of 23 networks so far, as well as content deals with three major music labels; Sony/BMG, EMI and Warner Music Group.
Apple, by contrast, has yet to announce a European launch date for the iPhone and plans to offer downloads direct to consumers.
Rob Lewis, Omnifone’s chief executive, told Reuters last week that the company expects 100m handsets to be sold with Music Station preloaded on to them by June next year.
But Paul Goode, a senior analyst at M:Metrics, told the Indie that he believed there was room for both it and Apple:
"I suspect that Omnifone would rather see Apple enter the market sooner rather than later, since the iPhone will be a high-end device tied to iTunes, outside the reach of the majority of subscribers, while Omnifone is promoting a subscription service to reach the mass market.
"There is certainly room for both approaches. The iPhone's arrival in the market will bring welcome promotion money and Apple's market flair to the mobile music sector as a whole, raising awareness of what is possible. In the meantime, the existing handset manufacturers are certainly not waiting around."