Nokia signs Music Giant Sony in bid to bolster its assault on Apple iTunes

Undeterred by recent setbacks, Nokia is busy preparing the launch of its soon-to-be-live "Comes with Music" integrated service with a couple of mobile phone releases and a welcomed agreement.

The mobile device manufacturer has released the 5320 and the 5220 handsets which are compatible with the XpressMusic service and come with a number of media-oriented features like side control buttons, 3.5mm headphone jacks (at last), microSD slot, FM tuner and dual cameras.

The 5320 also offers HSDPA with the 5220 limited to EDGE connectivity which will allow the phone to download tracks from Nokia's partners for free for one year after which the Nokia user can either decide to continue paying a monthly subscription or end it.

Sony BMG has joined Universal to become the second major music studio to partner with Nokia; EMI is also said to be interested in striking a deal with Nokia.

Users would still be able to transfer their music tracks to a PC and would be protected by Microsoft's Playsforsure Digital Rights Management.

Nokia denied that it was paying Universal Music Group £18 for every phone that offered the "Comes with Music" service, saying that this is still under negotiation.

There are also rumours that Apple could come with a similar scheme, giving away free music to people purchasing the iPhone through iTunes for a set period and then switching them to a subscription plan.