Nokia launches free music in China

Nicole McCormick
09 Apr 2010

Nokia’s Comes With Music service is now available for free in China as the company ups its battle against Apple’s iTune and tries to reinvent itself as an apps-led company.

Nokia said Thursday that mainland consumers can get unlimited music downloads free for 12 months on eight Nokia handsets – including the X6, 5230, 5330 models – as well as PCs.

Entry level prices for such handsets start from $187. Nokia is offering DRM-free music from the big four music labels - Vivendi’s Universal Music, EMI, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment.

It is the handset firm’s second free content offering in as many months as it attempts to boost the popularity of its Symbian-driven smartphones.

Nokia has been inundated with requests for its Ovi Maps application, since making the service available for free on smartphones in late January, including in China.

The strategy is part of CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo’s plan to transform the company from a hardware business into a servics and apps firm capable of competing against Apple and Google.

“Today consumers expect more from the device than just hardware. They want hardware along with services such as music and navigation built into the price of the device,” Kallasvuo said in an interview with GigaOm.

But analysts are not so sure about Nokia’s move to offer more content for free, especially in China where digital music piracy is rampant.

“Success will depend on indirect revenue such as advertising and cross-selling, otherwise margins will suffer,” Martin Garner, CCS Insight analyst, toldSCMP.

Nokia says its next target market for Comes with Music is India, which will also be DRM-free.

Nokia has launched Comes with Music service on a subscription basis in 30 countries in the past 18 months.

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