In the days leading up to the availability of Apple's iPhone, potentially competitive mobile music services, including one from Gracenote, are hitting the market.

Gracenote has announced a new service that will become available on phones introduced by Sony Ericsson. The service will let users search online from their handsets for artists, buy songs and ring tones, and view album art.

Gracenote can also identify songs that users are listening to on the FM radios in the phones and connect users to information about the songs and the opportunity to buy them.

The service will be available to users of the Sony Ericsson W910 Walkman phone and the K850 Cybershot phone, both introduced yesterday in the US and due to be available in the fourth quarter.

The Gracenote announcement coincides with one from Omnifone, which launched a service that lets mobile phone users download unlimited music to their mobile phones for a flat weekly fee. Customers of the MusicStation service, available initially in Europe but later in Asia-Pacific and Africa, can choose to download music from the catalogues of Universal Music, Sony BMG, EMI Group, Warner Music as well as additional independent labels.

These services join others that were recently launched. Melodeo introduced an offering that lets users stream music to any mobile phone from their iTunes library.

The companies offering these mobile music services may hope to capitalize on the buzz around the highly anticipated iPhone, which goes on sale June 29. The phone will combine an iPod music player with a mobile phone.

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