Sony hits back at Apple iTunes with music download site

LONDON - Sony is to take on the dominance of Apple's iTunes by setting up a global music download service under its PlayStation brand.

The service, which is being developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, will enable music to be downloaded direct to the PlayStation Portable, Sony's first entry into the handheld gaming market, which launches in the UK in March.

Marketing has learned that the download platform will initially be used as a marketing tool to offer PSP users free additional game levels and upgrades.

However, it is also being developed as a download vehicle for other potential Sony products, with a paid-for music service set to launch in the UK this summer.

Game downloads for the PSP will be free and will feature as a critical selling point in advertising. A micro-payment system is in development for the music download service.

At the end of last week Sony was forced to warn investors that profits had slumped following intense competition. The electronics giant is now pinning its revival on establishing PSP as a rival to Apple's iTunes and iPod.

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