Nokia’s Comes With Music Service Launching in UK Next Month; Carphone Sells Handsets


imageNokia’s (NYSE: NOK) ambitious all-you-can-eat mobile music service, Comes With Music, will launch in UK next month, and will then be rolled out in continental Europe and Asia next year. It is tying up with mobile retailer Carphone Warehouse, which has more than 800 shops, to stock the phone, which ironically is also Apple’s (NSDQ: AAPL) sole independent distributor of the iPhone in UK. Nokia expressed purpose is to compete with Apple iPhone and iTunes music service…remains to be seen how the two rival brands are promoted within the stores. Just yesterday Carphone said it would start selling Apple’s 3G iPhone on pay-as-you-go deals from later this month.

Users buying a Nokia handset will get unlimited music downloads for a year — 2.1 million on launch, about quarter on iTunes — and will then have to pay a monthly subscription fee to retain the service. The first handset to go on sale will be Nokia 5310, a basic music-enabled handset, which Carphone sells for £70-£80 to customers on pay-as-you-go deals. The Comes With Music service will increase the price of the mobile, reports FT.

In a rather pleasant surprise, unlike other unlimited music services, if users choose not to buy a new device after a year, they can keep all the tracks they have already downloaded, and they will still play on the user’s computer and handset, which will also still be able to send texts and make calls, reports Guardian. No word on a U.S. launch.

But as Guardian point out, this service is risky, including making the operators unhappy, most of which have their own music services in place. All five UK networks have held talks with Nokia about this service, but none has found the service attractive – or lucrative – enough to sign up, says the story. They see no reason to subsidize a handset that connects users with Nokia’s own music store rather than their own..even then Nokia is hoping to sign up partners prior to launch. It is expected to cost somewhere between £100 and £300.

By the launch, Nokia hopes to have signed all the four major labels: Universal Music, Sony (NYSE: SNE) BMG and Warner Music have already signed, and EMI is expected on board by the time of the UK launch. It also hopes to some deals done with the mobile operators in UK, which will sell more Nokia handsets enabled with this music service, though users will not be tied with any specific carrier.

For a history of how Nokia’s Comes With music service has evolved over the last year, read the related links below.

Hear Tom Erksine, Nokia’s man responsible for launching Comes With Music and Nokia Music in to new markets, speak at our EconMusic conference, September 23, at London’s Natural History Museum. Register now at our back-to-work rate.

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