It isn’t often these days that a major phone company manages to sneak out a new product without its image and spec being plastered all over the internet days before. So congrats to Nokia which today which unveiled a stunning new music handset, the X6, which took even the Finnish giants most seasoned observers by surprise.
The X6 is a cool little phone. The successor to the much derided 5800 XpressMusic Comes With Music handset is a real corker and is exactly the type of product the company should have used to debuts its music service.
It not only looks the dogs and boasts the now requisite 3.2inch touch screen, it also has 32 Gigabytes of storage on board, packs a five mega pixel camera and has 35 hours of music playing battery life. The phone also includes access to Nokia’s Ovi – its equivalent of the iTunes app store – and is ready to sync with Facebook too via a Lifecasting with Ovi feature. This basically lets you publish your location and status updates directly to Facebook from the phone.
Overall this looks like a phone from a company that has found its mojo again.
What went wrong with Comes With Music?
The big question though is – is it too late for Nokia to save Comes With Music? In case you missed it/got confused by the concept and you truly aren’t alone, Comes With Music is a system that gives the user access to over four million tracks for free. The user can download the tracks and then store them on the phone and on one PC. When the deal for the phone is over the tracks will still play on the phone and the PC, but nowhere else. The money for the tracks is included in the cost of the phone which, for handsets like the 5800, is a little on the high side.
However Comes With Music has so far been a bit of a disaster. By April Nokia had only grabbed 23,000 subscriptions in the UK, which, given the marketing budget and the expense of getting all those music companies on board, is a pathetic effort.
In my opinion Nokia made two huge mistakes when it launched Comes With Music. Firstly its advertising was awful. All those billboard ads were very confusing and in no way helped drive customers to what is actually not a bad service.
More importantly Nokia failed to realise that the only way it could get smart kids to buy into a new and innovative service is that it needed to deliver a ground breaking, uber cool, feature-packed handset – not the rather square and under specified 5800. Surely Nokia should have made an ultra desirable handset first, then got the early adopters raving about the service. This then would have given Comes With Music momentum.
The good news for Nokia, anyhow, is that the X6 is an infinitely better partner for Comes With Music than the 5800. It not only looks the part, but its 32 Gigabytes of storage means that people can store a lot of tunes on their phone. With the 5800 not only do you have to invest in expensive microSD memory stick to turn your phone into a MP3 player, but that card also puts a serious drain on battery power which will limit your web surfing and video watching.
Of course a desirable handset doesn’t completely compensate for Comes With Music’s number one weakness – the DRM that it is built on. At present you can keep any tracks you download, but only play them on the Comes With Music handset and on one PC. It all gets a bit too confusing if you have multiple PCs and music players.
Nevertheless good to see that Nokia has at least addressed one of the big issues surrounding its Comes With Music service. I think it may be too late for Comes With Music to make any impact in the US, but if Nokia can get the marketing right then maybe the service might generate some love for the company in Europe in the next year or so.
Nokia 5800 preview
Why hasn’t Comes With Music succeeded in the UK?