LONDON -- Nokia Corp., the world's largest mobile phone handset maker by sales, Tuesday said it had joined forces with Universal Music to offer unlimited music downloads for a year on phones bundled with its new Ovi Web-services platform.
The deal with Universal, the world's largest music company by sales, sees Espoo, Finland-based Nokia significantly ramp up its competition with Apple Inc. for consumers of music via mobile phone handsets. Nokia launched the Ovi platform and a set of multimedia services to hit stores ahead of the crucial Christmas trading period.
The service, dubbed Comes With Music, will allow users to keep the music after their yearly subscription charge expires, Nokia said in a statement.
Universal's artists include U2, Rihanna and Amy Winehouse.
Nokia said it was in discussion with other music groups about using their music. "We set out to create the music experience that people are telling us they are looking for -- all the music they want in the form of unlimited downloads to their mobile device and PC," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president and general manager for Nokia.
The deal with Universal, owned by France's Vivendi S.A., comes after Nokia in August launched Ovi, a platform designed to allow users to buy music and play games, in a bid to take on Apple's iPhone.
Nokia last year bought music portal Loudeye for $60 million to create the core of the service.
Nokia has also agreed deals on Ovi with mobile operators Telefonica S.A. and Vodafone Group PLC, the world's largest mobile operator by sales.