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Sony Ericsson apes Nokia's 'Saw You Coming'

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Sony Ericsson is imitating market leader Nokia and will bundle "free" music with its handsets, the FT claims today.

As with Nokia's "Comes With Music" program, selected Sony Ericsson handsets will come with a year's worth of unlimited liability downloads. Apart from suggesting a launch date of next month, no further details were disclosed by the FT.

Nokia's Comes With Music is a bold concept that's been handicapped by the Finns' naivety and clumsiness, earning it the music business nickname "Saw You Coming".

Nokia signed a deal with Universal Music that included both an upfront per handset payment, and a per-song royalty. But in its haste, Nokia failed to read the small print or study the usage pattern of intended demographic. Naive multimedia dweebs are no match for the experienced pickpockets of the music business, and Nokia was left with unlimited liability for any users who exceed 35 downloads a month.

(This Harry Enfield sketch will explain the derivation of the nickname.)

Nokia has finally signed the major labels - but no indies - and Carphone Warehouse will launch the service next month - with a year-old, 2G handset.

Still, perhaps there's a hint of a silver lining for Nokia. The "Saw You Coming" bundle is an immensely expensive way of gaining a few fractions of points of market share, but Nokia has far deeper pockets than its rivals. With question marks being raised about the long-term viability of the SE joint venture by Sony boss Howard Stringer, it's clear Sony Ericsson can't possibly match Nokia's resources.

So, the narrative goes, they all fail - but Sony Ericsson will fail sooner. ®

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