Although Symbian doesn't grab as much attention as its rivals these days it remains the most used smartphone operating system in the world with a huge installed base. Most of those phones are Nokia handsets like its N series phones, though Samsung and Sony Ericsson both have Symbian handsets in their range.
The deal is similar to the Google/Apple ones in that Symbian phone owners can download the software and use it for free if they take out a premium subscription to the popular music streaming service.
The deal means that Spotify will be bundled with 3 handsets starting with Google Android powered HTC Hero next month. A range of other phones will follow.
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.
While most had their eyes on Stephen Fry at the Nokia N97 launch, some keen bods were busy pumping the execs for information and it seems they pumped well. It turns out that Nokia is planning on phasing out the DRM on their Comes With Music package meaning that users will be able to download tracks as MP3s and actually keep their tunes.
It’s always been the desire of the mobile giant to go DRM-free but ultimately the decision has always been down to the labels who have never exactly been first to come round to new digital ideas.
It seems, though, that the big wigs have softened/modernised their attitudes since deals like the DRM-free one between Virgin and Universal and it looks as all with CWM will reap the rewards as of 2010.
A Nokia spokesperson said: “Nokia is committed to going DRM free on the Nokia Music Store in 2009”.
“Comes With Music offers great value and even with the DRM in place, it continues to have great appeal to our consumers. We are constantly discussing with the music industry about how to evolve Comes With Music and further enrich the proposition we currently have”.
It’s not clear if this evolution will continue to involve an all you can eat service if it is to be DRM-free but, given the extent of the CWM catalogue, I’m looking forward to finding out.
(via ME & Pocket Lint)
I just received word that if you get your arse down to the Nokia Store on Regents Street with an old phone and an old MP3 player between 12pm and 1pm today that you can trade them in for a half price Nokia 5800 with Comes With Music
You’ll need some photo ID and to fork out the £149.50 but, so long as your MP3 player has an audio jack and play button, and your old phone works, you will be able to complete the trade and bag yourself a rather nice touchscreen premium handset.
It’s not free but, if you’re looking to get one anyway, then you’d better get your skates on. It’s for the first 100 people only and you’ve got 45 minutes and counting…
Despite strong criticism coming its way from all corners of the internet, including ours, Nokia is standing shoulder to shoulder with Comes With Music. The company claims that it’s happy with the way the public has responded to the service, and cautions commenters to look at the global picture.
As Dan pointed out the other day, the service is doing very well in Singapore and other parts of the far East. It’s apaprently never been Nokia’s strategy to push it very strongly in the UK. That hasn’t stopped the media jumping on it with blood in their eyes, though.
In a wonderful display of bad timing, too, Nokia is launching Comes with Music in Mexico today. I imagine most news coverage is focusing on other matters. Mexicans will be able to pick up the Nokia 5800, though maybe not the Star Trek edition, from Nokia’s online store.
(Awful/wonderful flu-sick pun via @beamadelica, story via ITProPortal and Nokia Conversations)
There’s never been a lot of love for Nokia’s Comes With Music service on Tech Digest. Duncan is essentially a DRM Nazi and, as far as I’m concerned, if it’s not free, I don’t want to know about it. But I’m going to give Nokia a break today – well, as best I can. They probably need it after news that just 23,000 CWM subscriptions have been taken up in the UK.
Now, before we right the whole project off as an utter failure, which the UK figures would suggest, it should be noted that CWM is doing a roaring trade over in Singapore where it’s increased the digital music market by 30%. No mean feat. So, what’s the problem in the West? Why don’t we like our music free-ish and DRM heavy over here?
First up we need to look at how the service is being packaged and, right now, you can only get your year’s subscription when you pick up one of three handsets in the UK – the N95, N96 and 5310. In Singapore, and elsewhere, Comes With Music comes with the Nokia Xpress 5800 which we all used to know as the Tube.
The 5800 may not have turned out to be an iPhone killer but CWM would certainly be a lot more attractive when packaged with something as apparently desirable. Perhaps, more to the point, the millions of subscriptions to the service worldwide might have really been by-products of people who wanted to own the 5800 regardless of what kind of media it does or doesn’t come with? But then, I don’t suppose that makes the picture any prettier for Nokia.
I own a Nokia 5310. (It’s something to do with not being able to decide between an iPhone, a G1 and half being on the look out the Pre, Magic and TG01. Don’t ask.) I registered my CWM credentials and therefore would count as one of Nokia’s 23,000 but I can’t say I’ve downloaded a single track.
There’s a small handful of relatively well documented reasons as to why this would be – aside my general laziness which, as it goes, is probably as good a reason as any – and most of them a are related to the DRM.
I could link you through to a thousand of my colleague’s quite reasonable, if passionate, rants on the subject of music file freedom, but the fact remains that it’s a pain in the arse to have your music collection split up into those that you can play anywhere and those limited to your PC and phone without so much as CD in sight.
On the mobile side of things, not only do you have to invest in expensive microSD memory sticks to turn your phone into a decent MP3 player but you’re going to be putting a serious drain on battery power which will limit your web surfing and video watching, as well as your bread and butter voice and text services that you bought the thing for in the first place.
On top of that, stick the fact that, generally, the audio quality in phones isn’t necessarily as good as many other dedicated music players. Who cares how much music you have when it sounds rubbish, or perhaps, more to the point, not as good as your deditcated PMP because that’s really what we’re looking at as the key CWM’s elusive success.
It’s a good service if it can replace your media player but, if can’t, then it’s just an expensive, unnecessary bolt-on. The 5800 is the only Nokia device you might consider leaving you iZune home for and if they’re not offering it with CWM over here, then that’s got to be a serious mistake.
At the other end of things, back at home, the DRM’s still getting you because you’ve got to use the Nokia player for the service to work. I don’t like being strong-armed into my choice of PC music player.
The catalogue is actually superb. Comes With Music has all sorts of Pink Floyd, Metallica, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and 4 million tracks that the mighty Spotify can only dream of at the moment. But Spotify is going to waltz right in and take from under their noses what maybe CWM was always supposed to be, if only the vision had been bolder. Yes, Spotify will still have problems with audio quality on a phone once the mobile service is up and running but it’s not such a big deal when you’re not paying for it.
As it stands, the choice is between costly MP3 downloads, semi-dodgy piracy or a “free” service that you laid out for in the cost of your handset in the first place. All choices make you pay but the CWM option is by far and away the one with the most hassle and without the carrot of a sexy handset. Why would anyone not decide to go with something else plus a PMP instead?
I really didn’t mean to sit here and have a go at Nokia for Comes With Music. I’ve got plenty of love for the Finnish giants but perhaps that’s just the trouble with the service. It’s this fantastic idea utterly crippled by rules and regulations to the point of madness. It just isn’t practical.
No one is asking for a free ride here. I’m not necessarily suggesting they drop the DRM like a stone but give it as a reason to buy the N97 over any other smartphone this summer. Keep that 4 million and counting catalogue three steps ahead of everyone else, make your own Nokia PMP to play video content as well as what you would otherwise carry around and, maybe then, CWM will begin to fly.
The trouble is, that in less than a year the Comes with Music model already looks dated. With Apple making you pay for music but ditching the DRM, and Spotify not letting you own but offering free access, CWM looks like some terrible half-way house hotch potch of the two. All it really adds is a degree of customer confusion and good dollop of inconvenience.
So, in answer to my own question, that’s why Nokia’s Comes With Music hasn’t succeeded over here and why, in its current guise it probably never will, but consider this – perhaps Nokia isn’t interested in how it does over here? Nokia already has some kind of giant market share in both Europe and the Developing World. Maybe it was the East they were after all along? There were queues for the 5800 when it launched in Singapore. Would that have happened for a Nokia phone if it weren’t for the Comes With Music package?
The Majors are based over here. So, you’re going to need presence in the West, and with all the talk we hear about the state of piracy in other parts of the world, perhaps the labels were only too happy to back that kind of gameplan. It’s win-win for all of them.
So, if Operation CWM part A has actually turned up trumps, exactly what is it Nokia that has up their sleeves for world domination?
Vodafone has announced today that they’ve agreed a deal with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Music to provide users with DRM-free music downloads via the mobile network…
Nokia seems to have decided that music is where it wants to be. The Finnish handset-maker has announced three new handsets today – the 5730 XpressMusic, the 5330 XpressMusic, and the 5030 – which doesn’t have an XpressMusic suffix, but does have an XpressRadio one.
The handsets range from budget to high-end. Starting at the bottom, the 5030 XpressRadio is a candybar with a built-in FM radio antenna, not the internet radio that Nokia’s been pushing to date. It’s very cheap, at just €40 before contracts come into play. Budget-tastic. It’ll be available in Q2.
Then there’s the 5330 XpressMusic, which has a different design to many Nokia handsets. More square. It’s a slider, and it has a 3.5mm headphone jack, 24 hours of listening time battery life, and some sort of crazy light thing going on. If you have any idea what that’s about, then free free to comment. Unfortunately, the 5330 won’t be running S60 – just the cut-down S40 version. It’ll cost €184 before taxes or contracts get involved. It’ll be available in Q3 2009.
Then, at the top of the range is the 5730 XpressMusic which comes in black/red, black/grey, grey/blue and black/pink. It’s got both a numeric keypad and a slide-out QWERTY, which shrinks the screen down a little, but it’s the only phone of the three to be running S60.
Specs-wise, the 5730 has got Wi-Fi, a 3.5mm headphone jack, a 3.2-megapixel camera, HSDPA, and GPS. You can also access your media from the home screen, which will be handy for those who want easier access to their content on the go. It’ll cost €280, and will be available in Q3 2009.
The phones were announced with a webchat this morning, and as part of that chat, the Nokia team also answered a few random questions from the audience. Here’s a few interesting tidbits that they came out with.
Firstly, when asked about the N97, Product Manager for Music Solutions, Steven Stewart, said the handset is “like sex in your hand”(!). The device hasn’t been announced as a Comes with Music device, but Stewart said it would be “perfect for getting unlimited free music downloads”, which sounds like a hint to me.
The inevitable question about Spotify was asked – Nokia responded: “Yes, the music team is aware of most all types of music services and devices. Spotify is one of many interesting new services. Social Music is an important part of the music experience which our teams are busy as beavers working on!”. Given Spotify’s now-officially-announcedmobile ambitions, a tie-in could be very powerful.
Discussing Apple and competition, Stewart said: “Nokia is doing many exciting things with music that apple is not. Nokia has a large range of devices for most every taste, style, and use. Nokia also has a subscription model for unlimited free music that users keep even AFTER the membership ends. But we do look at ALL of the competitive intelligence to make sure we are developing music experiences that consumers want.”.
Lastly, with regards to Comes with Music, the service will shortly be announced in Italy, Sweden, and Mexico. There are no current plans to unbundle the service from handsets, so that it’ll be usable with any device. I suspect that’s because, like Apple, Nokia wants to carefully control the ecosystem and not have to deal with supporting other manufacturer’s handsets.
The DRM on the service is “a requirement of the labels and publishers at this point”, says Stewart. “Nokia Music team is looking for the best experiences for Music Lovers. Getting DRM free music is one of the things which we are in discussions with the labels and publishers about.”
Nokia 5730, 5330 and 5030.
Nokia’s “Comes With Music” service, which offers unlimited music for a small amount bundled into the price of the of your phone, is unfortunately hobbled with DRM.
The ways things are set up means that any tracks you download are locked to one handset and one PC and if you want to do anything else, then…. well, you can’t do anything else.
However, Nokia doesn’t want it that way. Nokia understands that music should, in its very nature, be sharable with people you love. That’s why it wants to get rid of the DRM. Nokia’s director of global digital music retail, Adam Mirabella says:
“We have dialogues going with all of our partners and Digital Rights Management-free is also on the roadmap for the future integration of Comes With Music.”
Don’t hold your breath – I doubt we’ll see this for at least a year – but it’d certainly be nice, and would certainly make me retract most of my criticism of the service.
(via Music Ally)