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SCEE plans music download service for PSP

iTunes Music Store challenger will be centred on PSP, may later include movies.

A new music download service specifically targeted at PlayStation Portable owners is in development at Sony, with the company hoping to use the platform to challenge Apple's lead in the digital music marketplace.

That's according to a report in this week's Marketing magazine, which claims that the service is being planned by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and will initially offer additional content and software updates for games before being extended to cover music downloads later this summer.

The PlayStation Portable is, of course, also capable of playing back high quality video from Memory Sticks, and as such it's quite likely that the service would eventually be extended to cover movies - a direction Apple is also believed to be taking with its iTunes Music Store service.

Sony will be hoping that the popularity of the PlayStation Portable and the strength of the PlayStation brand will give it a boost in the digital music market, which is still largely dominated by Apple's iPod hardware and iTunes digital distribution system.

The existing Sony product in this space, called Connect, was launched in the US and Europe last summer but has failed to match the growth of iTunes or other rivals such as Napster, and suffers from both poor software and limited uptake of Sony's digital music players - which until recently did not support the popular MP3 format for music.

A system is already in place for the PlayStation Portable which allows the device to download automatic updates whenever it is connected to the Internet using its Wireless LAN capabilities, but as yet this only appears to support software updates for the console's own operating system.