Sony to launch possible iTunes competitor by late 2010

Sony is set to release a cloud-based digital music service called Music Unlimited, announced the company September 1 at IFA in Berlin. The streaming service, which will reportedly give fans access to millions of songs, is due to launch in several countries by year's end.

Music Unlimited is based only on streaming rather than the purchase of MP3s, meaning users won't manage their own digital files as they do on services such as iTunes. Channels personalized to users' tastes will enable discovery of new music, and cloud-computing will allow activities to be synchronized across multiple devices.

The service will initially be available for Sony's 2010 network-enabled TVs, for Blu-ray Disc players and Home Theater systems, and for PlayStation 3 systems and personal computers. The service will later also be available on a range of new Sony portable devices, says the company.

Music Unlimited is being described by analysts as Sony's attempt to compete with iTunes, Apple's MP3-based service; Sony previously launched an iTunes-style music download store called Connect that closed in 2008. Music Unlimited will also share a market with leading streaming services including Spotify and Last.fm.

Sony's service is so far set for launch in Europe by the end of 2010. It will reportedly be available for an as-yet-undisclosed fee.

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