Vodafone New Zealand has rung the changes at its online music services - and according to the company it is already starting to pay dividends.

Last month saw the launch of Vodafone MusicStation, which provides unlimited music downloads to mobiles on a subscription basis. In a separate move, NZ's largest mobile operator also became the first Vodafone company in the world to offer DRM-free MP3s through its vmusic.co.nz online store.

Morgan Donoghue, head of music for Vodafone NZ, was unable to provide detailed figures but has been delighted with the response to date to the company's new music offers.

"MusicStation has far exceeded our initial forecasts," he says. "DRM-free is also going really well. Previously, we were mainly selling off the phone but we are now seeing more downloads coming from PCs as well."

Donoghue believes the combination of DRM-free content and high quality MP3s will see it win customers from New Zealand's other major online operator iTunes.

MusicStation, in which users will have unlimited access to over one million tracks from all majors and independent labels for a flat fee of $2.50 ($1.66) a week, is another unique selling point for Vodafone.

According to Donoghue, the enhanced services now means NZ customers can access online music in the formats that suit them best.

The NZ move comes at a time of heightened activity in the mobile/online sector in the region. Vodafone MusicStation has also gone live in Australia and Sony Ericsson's new PlayNow unlimited subscription service is expected be introduced there sometime in 2009.

Meanwhile, Nokia - which already operates a music store in Australia - is also set to bring its Comes With Music program to the region in 2009.

At this stage, it's not known if and when these other mobile services will be introduced in New Zealand. The only other mobile carrier is Telecom, the country's biggest telecommunications company, but at this stage it only offers ringtones.