Monday, October 19, 2009

Not many Nokias come with music

Nokia has wanted to be a vertically integrated mobile services and devices company. It its own app store, its own maps and its own music service.

How’s that working out, Nokia? The data is in on the latter, as PaidContent (and others) report:

Free unlimited music for more than a year seemed like a good proposition, but, nine months after its launch, Nokia’s Comes With Music bundle is not proving particularly popular with consumers.

In July, the scheme had just 107,227 users across the nine countries in which it’s launched, according to figures Nokia (NYSE: NOK) sent out to labels and distributors, obtained by MusicAlly:
By comparison, PaidContent mentions that Spotify has 6 million users. As of May, Pandora claimed to have 4 million iPhone listeners. Sirius XM radio quickly got 1 million downloads for its music app (although it’s not clear how many of those pay the monthly fee.

The granddaddy of them all, the iTunes Store, has sold more than 6 billion songs, even if most of them (so far) are only for use on PCs.

PaidContent’s assessment:
Nokia has placed a lot of importance, and a lot of marketing money, on Comes With Music. But the programme has been hampered by DRM and complex PC operation and confusing PC-mobile sync. And that advertising campaign has really failed to communicate exactly what CWM means.

Even the official blog on which Nokia is celebrating CWM’s first birthday acknowledges: “Sure, it didn’t start out that rosy, with lots of folk not really certain about what Comes With Music offered ... we never shied away from the important education process that is needed in order to fathom that you can download and forever-keep as many tracks as you like – but the past 365 days have seen a much greater understanding and appreciation for the service emerge.”
DRM is dead, simplicity and ubiquity are in. It sounds like Comes With Music has a long way to go. Is it the problem with the product concept? The execution? The business model?

Whatever the problem, it’s clear that the benefits of vertical integration (compared to all the point solution rivals) are minimal for Nokia. One could argue that vertical integration has paid off handsomely for Apple, but for the past decade the company also had the best execution in the IT industry for product design and ease of use. The point products can’t copy Apple‘s vertical integration, but they can hope to copy (or surpass) its other advantages.

If my experience with my Nokia E61 and S60 is any indication, Nokia is a long way from winning awards for ease of use.

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