Starting on the wrong note

29 Aug 2007

The relationship between handset guys and operators is uneasy at the best of times.

Nokia is about to test its friendship with mobile carriers with the launch of its new digital music service. It's scheduled an event in London Wednesday to unveil the service, which will compete directly with iTunes.

The problem, as the Financial Times reports, is that operators see it competing directly with them. It says their own music offerings have failed to gain traction, with users "sideloading" tracks from their PC onto their handsets.

That's true enough, although some Asian operators have done very well out of music downloads. UK operator Orange sells 100,000 downloads a month - not a huge return from 16 million customers, but a nice earner.

No wonder then that Orange has become especially testy about Nokia's music plans. One executive has threatened to "derange" the new Nokia N81 music phone unless the service is proven to sync with Orange's existing customer experience. (I'm supposing "derange" is marketing-speak for removal from the range - any other suggestions‾)

Digital music is too big an opportunity for any of the big mobile players to avoid. Expect lots more musical discord.

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