After watching Nokia’s(s nok) sometimes painful transition from smartphone sales leader to laggard, it’s easy to overlook the company’s software and services. So if you haven’t been paying attention, you might have missed some of the company’s hits such as Nokia Here and, more recently, Nokia MixRadio.
The music streaming service just added the 30 millionth track to its catalog, which surprisingly beats out most other competing services. Spotify, which just announced a half-price Premium plan for college students, tops out around 20 million tunes, for example. Rdio has an amount similar to Spotify, while Rhapsody touts 16 million, or slightly more than half that of MixRadio. (Note: Rhapsody representatives reached out to me saying the service has 32 million tracks, although the company’s About page shows 16 million.)
Catalog size is surely important, but so is availability. Nokia is beating everyone else to the punch when it comes to China, the world’s largest mobile market, with roughly 500 million people already using the mobile web. Hypebot says the service will launch this week in China, marking the 31st country where listeners can tune in.
MixRadio takes an interesting approach: It’s a free music service without ads for Nokia Lumia handsets running Windows Phone. Considering a paid service can easily run $10 a month, that’s a nice value add for the Lumia lineup and one that could help the company sell more handsets in China. By comparison, Apple’s iTunes (S AAPL) Radio is similar but does have occasional ads and is only available in two regions, the U.S. and Australia.
I wouldn’t say that MixRadio alone has significantly boosted Windows Phone sales, but it does offer an advantage. And that could be key in the vast Asia region where no other similar global music services are yet available.