Feeds

Nokia's free music offer isn't so free

Comes With Music comes with indies - and a price

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Few music business people expect Nokia's unlimited free music giveaway to be repeated, or even last very long. There simply aren't enough large consumer companies prepared to take such an expensive gamble.

And Nokia's richest partners aren't interested in helping out.

But it's a radical and interesting offering that merits some serious analysis: certainly, much more than Nokia's other Dad-at-the-Disco attempts to get down with da yoot.

As we wrote last December - Comes With Music is much more subtle and interesting than most people gave it credit for. There are strings attached, but fewer than with any such previous bundling promotion.

Nokia has been inhaling Chris Anderson's "Freetardonomics," and this is what comes out when it exhales. The idea behind Comes With Music is to make Nokia's handsets more attractive by giving away music - unlimited for one year, which the punter can then keep. Two or three particularly newsworthy aspects have emerged from the formal announcement today.

Unlike MySpace Music, Nokia has signed deals with (real) indie labels. The Beggars Group (representing 4AD, Matador, Rough Trade, and XL), Pias, and Pinnacle (representing hundreds more) have signed up - as well as the big four labels: Universal, Sony, Warners, and EMI. The major publishers are also on board, too, says Nokia. Although MySpace is a site with an "indie" audience, News Corp. seems to think that serving them the music they want is supernumerary.

In addition, Nokia has confirmed that users will be able to keep the music they download in the first year indefinitely (which we knew) and move it around different devices (which we didn't). However, there is DRM involved, so devices must be "authorized," or approved against a central authentication server. That might prove too freedom-inhibiting for many. And thirdly, CwM users will be able to exchange songs with other CwM users. Sort of.

The operators snub Nokia

The real deal, as sold through Carphone Warehouse - the bit you sign your name to - looks less attractive than the general concept. While CwM will be offered to pay as you go customers, it requires a £129.95 upfront payment. And for that, you merely get a year old 2G handset, the 5310 XpressMusic phone.

This tells us that the mobile operators have again kicked sand at the Finns, blocking Nokia's traditional route to the mass market. We'll see why this is important in a moment.

What it means is that in practice, the business end of Comes With Music is neither "free," nor particularly cool. Since the big selling point is that it "feels like free" - apparently viewed as necessary to compete with free downloads - you may wonder what the point is. This is more a case of clumsy and slightly deceptive marketing, rather than a lousy product.

So right away, Nokia badly needs more CwM devices and more partners. But without the might of the mobile operators - their ubiquitous high street presence and deep subsidies - free won't look or feel like anything but an expensive, upfront music subscription program.

Maybe Nokia took one inhalation of Freetardonomics too many? Well, maybe it doesn't need to offer a free service, just one that's convenient and cracking value? That's where CwM's rival thinks it has the edge.

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.