Nokia reshapes mobile music

The launch last week in London of Nokia's Comes with Music service could be the start of something new. Two aspects of the launch look to reshape the agenda: Firstly, users can download all the music they want and get to keep and play it forever. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, Nokia is positioning this service as a primary product, as against something that supports its handset sales.

Whilst some analysts speculated Nokia's Comes with Music service was little more than a loss leader to drive cellphone sales, and attack Apple's iPhone, the company was adamant the £130 price tag for the handset and music service would provide them with a profit margin.

Less obvious in this launch was the 12-month subscription required, and the seeming need for a compatible Nokia device to listen to the music together with a block on the subscriber's ability to burn music tracks onto a CD and transfer them to an iPod or MP3 player. The official Nokia press release indicated purchased songs could be transferred between a PC and a Nokia device, regardless of which device was used to burn them--not an unreasonable requirement given the user will have access to thousands of tracks.

Nokia also seems to have all the major record labels on board including EMI, Sony BMG and Warner music group--vital partners if Nokia is to succeed in making this service a mass-market success.

But the company will also need to focus upon how it will train and incentivise its retail channel, especially given that it plans to exclusively use Carphone Warehouse. The staff of this organisation will need a thorough and comprehensive understanding of this 'free' service for it to be a success.

However, the response to Nokia's new service has been less than enthusiastic. Perhaps not surprising given that Sony Ericsson has its unlimited music service--Playnow Plus, Orange, its Musique Max, and Vodafone, Musicstation.--Paul