Saturday, May 1, 2010

Nokia users will get unlimited music download for a year

Nokia has joined the battle with telecom service providers for a share of the online music pie. Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone maker, on Thursday said its customers in India will be able to download unlimited music on their handsets or personal computers. 

 The catch is that only those customers who buy a smartphone where this facility is enabled will get 12 months of unlimited free music downloads.

"The 5-series and X-series of handsets will offer 12 months of unlimited music downloads," Nokia’s Vice President & Managing Director for India D Shivakumar said. The price range of these handsets range from Rs 6,000—Rs 18,000, he added. 

But, existing customers of Nokia who already use handsets from these series cannot avail this facility. "You have to buy a new mobile phone to get unlimited music downloads," Mr Shivkumar said. He added that going forward, Nokia would make this service available on other handset series too. 

Nokia customers can download music from the Ovi Music Unlimited service that has been launched in India today. Nokia executives also said the company was yet to take a call if this service would be charged after the 12-month period expires. 

Analysts say the handset maker will find it tough to come up with a business model to charge customers for music after the 12-month period, especially in a market which is used to the concept of receiving and exchanging pirated music for free. Nokia will also have to compete with telecom service providers such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Reliance Communications, who offer music downloads to their customers for rates as low as Rs 2–5 per track. However, industry executives say most music on mobile phones in India is consumed through data cards where customers download, store and exchange tracks for free. 

The Ovi Music Unlimited service has four million tracks and off these, one million numbers are Indian music, Mr Shivakumar explained. Our nearest competitor in India offers about 100,000 tracks, he added. 

Nokia has tied up global music labels including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Music for the service. It has also partnered with Indian Music Industry (IMI) to offer a consortium of more than 150 domestic music labels like Hungama, Yash Raj, Tseries, Eros and SIMCA (South Indian Music Companies Association). The firm said it had done an in-depth research with Indian consumers on how they would like to consume music on their mobile phones and used the findings to create a ‘Made for India’ music service proposition.

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