Omnifone today launches its new mobile music service, MusicStation, to rival Apple’s iPhone.

The service is being launched in partnership with 23 mobile network providers who have subscribers in 40 countries and is backed by major music labels.

The UK-based music company also announced its collaboration with Musiwave, provider of mobile music entertainment services to operators worldwide, to distribute the service. MusicStation software is designed to revolutionise the way music is downloaded and listened to on mobile phones and will support a wide range of 3G and 2.5G handsets. It will make a vast music library available on your phone, complete with user-generated playlists and automatic recommendations. The service will cost £1.99 a week for unlimited downloads that will be added directly to your mobile phone bill.

Rob Lewis, chief executive at Omnifone said that the service “heralds the next-generation mobile music experience for the hundreds of millions of mobile phone subscribers worldwide who want a simple, easy-to-use digital music experience”.

As well as music, MusicStation provides news, release dates and gig dates and is designed to be specific to each individual user. Therefore as you use the service more it can judge your musical taste and tailor the news service you receive. The software has DRM already built in and allows tracks and playlists to be shared using the MusicStation network.

Robin Bloor, founder of research firm Bloor Research, feels that MusicStation has a great opportunity as Apple only has one expensive device in the works, the iPhone, and is “doing exclusive deals with carriers and leaving others out in the cold”. He also foresees that Apple will take some share of the market but doesn’t expect it to even exceed 5 per cent.

Universal Music Group senior vice president, Rob Wells, has stated that MusicStation is one of the most “consumer-friendly and secure platforms we have seen” and sees its abilities to make music instantly accessible as “enormous”.

Scandinavian network operator Telenor and Vodafone partner network Vodacom in South Africa will be the first to launch the service. In the second quarter of 2007 four further networks will also launch across major territories in Western Europe and Asia-Pacific.