A wave of new deals are set to entice music fans away from their iPods and onto their cellphones.

 

Around 38,000 top members of the global mobile phone industry have crammed into the small chic French seaside resort of Cannes for the four-day 3GSM congress that kicked off on Monday.

 

And, mobile music grabbed the top spot on the agenda.

 

Musical high points in recent days included Japanese-Swedish mobile phone maker Sony Ericsson's announcement that it would launch a digital Walkman phone next year that it promises will be compatible with the most popular digital music file formats and services.

 

Splash

  

And world cellphone leader Nokia is also vying to make a musical splash, linking up with software giant Microsoft and US music download service Loudeye.

 

This deal will mean users will be able to download songs and ringtones to Nokia handsets that will be equipped with Microsoft's digital music-playing software.

  

"Music is the next big thing in mobile multimedia," Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki told a press conference in Cannes on Wednesday.

 

"We see 2005 as the year when music really goes mobile," Vanjoki said, adding that Nokia sold 10 million phones with integrated music players last year.