Sony is taking on Apple this week with the launch of its Sony Connect download service.

The Japanese consumer electronics giant has chosen to match Apple on price (79 pence in the UK, 0.99 Euros in Europe). Like Apple it has initially opened for business in the UK, France and Germany, also like Apple it intends to open other stores across Europe later this year.

Sony does offer a local advantage in comparison to Apple: it is offering a good collection of independent label music in Europe after successfully negotiating a deal with AIM (Association of Independent Music). This means the service can supply tracks from the likes of The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and Dizzee Rascal.

The service offers 500,000 tracks in Sony's own proprietary Atrac format, which means the music only works on Sony music players or using Sony software.