The Trouble with Nokia’s Music Service

Apr 27, 2008
Updated • Dec 3, 2012
Mobile Computing, Music

Mobile phone giant Nokia is looking for a foothold into the music distribution business. To that end, Nokia has introduced an online music service called the Nokia Music Store in Australia. Their aim is to provide a service that will take on Apple’s iTunes and win.

There’s nothing wrong in wanting to beat iTunes. However, the way Nokia is going about things, you’d think they were trying to scare away all their customers. It’s a case of how do I frighten thee? Let me count the ways.

Let’s start by getting to the site. I accessed the site using Firefox and was told that the music store does not support the browser. You can only get to the site using IE6 or higher. That’s strike one. To transfer the music to your phone, you need to have Windows XP or Vista. That’s strike two since it shuts out all the Linux and Mac users.

Assuming you fulfill the first two criteria, the fun doesn’t stop there. Music on the site is only available in the proprietary ‘wma’ format, so your phone needs to have Windows Media Player to play your tunes. At $1.70 a song, it might interest you to know that the songs are DRM enabled as well. So, you cannot play the song anywhere else except for your phone.

In my first para, I mentioned Nokia was looking to topple iTunes. Their most brilliant strategy to do that? The songs cannot be played on iPod. That’s right, the most popular portable media player will not play any of these songs. Brilliant marketing strategy isn’t it?

To quote Andre Yoskowitz at Afterdawn, “I'm not sure who at Nokia thought that offering expensive, DRM-crippled music that cannot be played on iPods was a good idea but they should not have a job.”

How many of you would be willing to purchase music like this? What do you think of Nokia’s marketing strategy? What’s your opinion on these kind of arm-twisting tactics? Let me know.


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  1. Jedi said on May 3, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    A very interesting article. True itunes uses mp3 mainly or you rip cds and import directly into your ipod. I don’t really see it as a threat, the TA of both facilities are slightly different. Still an interesting read. Nokia seems to be going for the majority and ignoring the minority with regards to the win xp and vista deals.

  2. Sergius The Audioholic said on April 27, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    I am an owner of Nokia’s N91 8Gb mobile phone as well as Apple’s 20Gb iPod and I prefer to listen to music on my Nokia handset and in wma format too, by the way, simply because even iPod cannot rival N91 in terms of sound quality and power of output, and to my taste wma sounds better than mp3, too. So, if it is only price and DRM issue, then Nokia is generally on the right track, I guess.
    Give me the quality of sound along with ease of access to download and I do not care to listen to my tunes on any device other than Nokia’s one. And prices do fluctuate with the time…
    Just do not forget to use decent Sony’s ear phones instead of the ones that come along with the Nokia’s mobile phones, ok? ;-)

  3. OLIRC said on April 27, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Just say no to DRM so they get the message that it’s a bad idea to sell crippled files.

  4. Roman ShaRP said on April 27, 2008 at 10:10 am

    That’s just MARVELOUS! May be they got some virus from SONY?
    I’m not their type of customer, as long as my head is OK ;)

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