To give you a little background, Nokia announced an ambitious service called ‘Comes With Music’ a while ago at the Nokia World event in 2007. The core objective of the service is to let a consumer buy a Nokia device along with a year of unlimited access to millions of tracks across all major labels. There is no catch as such, only that the tracks are DRM’d, but you can keep downloading as many as you want for one year. The cost of the service will be bundled into the price of the handset at about an extra US$20 per phone for the one year subscription, even after the year ends you get to keep the tracks.
Since that day Nokia is trying to get each and every record label onto their bandwagon, the good news that after Sony BMG and Universal, the Warner Music Group has become the third major label to open its catalogue for Nokia’s yet to be launched music service. Reports suggest a deal with the last of the four major labels, EMI, is imminent, so Nokia looks set to launch this service in the second half of 2008.
Now my question is how much of an attraction would it be for the end users? I personally am pretty skeptical. The service basically helps you download music on the go, but isn’t that something we’ve already been doing for a while now? With the very capable S60 browser and before that Opera and also with P2P clients such as Symella. There are hundreds of places that offer directly downloadable music for free, what will induce people to give that up and start paying? The idea clearly is to get them hooked to the ‘ease’ and ‘convenience’ of it all and then hope for the best.
There’s another senario, regional differences – while a lot of music is accounted for by these major labels, there are loads of minor/regional labels and getting them onboard is also necessary. For example in India, which is a huge market for Nokia, Hindi music rules the roost and very little of that is on these major labels, so if Joe Average can’t access it inspite of paying that extra 20$ what good is the service to him?
On the contrary, there’s quite a chance that getting the largest music labels already on board will help Nokia attract smaller music companies and challenge the dominant pay-per-track sales model for digital music but the bottomline is making this a success worldwide will be a huge problem. Will handsets also be sold separately without this service? Will they sell better? Are you looking forward to it?