3 has been announced as the first UK mobile operator partner for Spotify, following negotiations earlier in the year, and will be pushing out the music subscription service bundled with handsets before Christmas. The HTC Hero will be the first phone to come with the app pre-installed, and it'll be followed by three further handsets.

It's already possible to get Spotify on the HTC Hero (and other Android handsets) from other operators, as well as on the iPhone, but this will be the first time in the UK that the subscription service will be bundled in with your monthly mobile phone bill. It's unclear so far how much it'll cost - we reckon it won't be the full £10 that the subscription normally costs.

The move puts Spotify in an interesting position - directly competing with fellow Scandinavians Nokia and its much-derided Comes with Music service. It'll also help Spotify break out of early-adopter circles and into less tech-savvy markets, making it more mainstream.

It's unclear yet what the other handsets on offer will be, though the lineup will almost certainly include the not-yet-detailed Spotify handset from INQ. We'll bring you more on this story as we hear it.

UPDATE: A 3 spokesperson has told Pocket-lint to "watch this space". Sounds like there'll be more news shortly.