Ericsson, Napster Partner to Combat Apple/Motorola Music Phone

Ericsson AB, the worldis largestmaker of mobile-phone networks, will start an online music service with Napster in the next year, the two companies announced late Tuesday. The move could put the Napster brand inside mobile phones to compete against a similar venture currently being developed by Apple Computer and Motorola

The service, which provides both music downloads and subscription services, is scheduled to go live in Europe over the next 12 months and will initially be offered to operators in select markets in Europe, Asia, Latin America and North America.

The service will carry the universally known Napster brand and combine elements of Napsteris PC offering and Ericssonis personalized music service. Pricing has not been set, but the venture said mobile operators would share in revenue generated by the music store.

The new service will support coordinated wireless and PC downloading of digital music. The companies plan on offering both a la carte and subscription sales of music.

The partnership will try and head off a similar service soon to be announced by Apple and Motorola. Both companies have confirmed they are working on a phone and accompanying service, but have not yet officially debuted a device and service.