Digital radio firms are examining ways in which they can introduce music downloads using enabled digital radios - possibly rivalling Apple's dominant iTunes Music Store.

Such services are anticipated to launch "by the middle of next year", reports claim.

Reuters claims the technology - which uses software and bandwidth from digital radio firm UBC - will allow radio listeners to buy songs as they are broadcast. Tracks download in the background to be stored on memory cards, and can then be "transferred to a computer, a portable player, or burned to a CD", the report claims.

Agreements with labels, prices, billing and digital rights management technologies must still be worked out, but UBC CEO Simon Cole expects such devices to reach market "next year".