Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nokia introduces "Comes With Music" service in Middle East, along with the new Nokia X6

I had the pleasure of attending Nokia's regional event in Beirut announcing its "Comes With Music" service, that enables buyers of the new Nokia X6 phone to enjoy unlimited music downloads legally for a year, from the Ovi store catalogue.

For around $600, buyers get the touchscreen Nokia X6 capable of storing around 3,000 songs on its 16GB built-in memory, and can then select the music they want from a library of 4 million. The music files will be digital-rights-managed (DRM) and users can keep the music on their X6 phone, and consequent Nokia X-series devices, and can also keep a copy of it all on their PC too.

Nokia rolls out this service in 11 Arab markets: Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, UAE and Egypt in the first week of March 2010. The service has already been introduced in 14 other markets across Europe, Asia and South America.

Nokia has signed agreements with over 2000 music content owners, including Middle Eastern labels such as Rotana, Mazzika, Melody Music and others; so popular Arabic music is now available for download. This should please music fans across the region.

I had the opportunity to ask Ayman Chalhoub, head of retail sales for music at Nokia, regarding the means by which Nokia X6 owners can renew their unlimited music download service when the first 12 months run out, and the answer was that users can do so by buying a new Nokia device.

Although it seems a bit strange that users may have to buy a new device every year to continue to download music, it appears that it's still early to predict how Nokia's music distribution strategy in the MEA region will evolve, as the company gauges the success of its new approach and receives feedback from customers.

Steve Lewis, head of Nokia marketing for Middle East and Africa, commented on this matter saying that this 'one year free music download' strategy was found to be the most suitable approach for Nokia and its music partners in the Middle East for now, and that there could be more developments in this field. He emphasized the positive aspect of this strategy which was the accessibility it offers to a massive music library.

Echoing this idea was Jake Larsen, Head of Music, Middle East and Africa, who said that "The mobile phone will be the top music device," and went on to explain that Nokia has "forever changed the way that digital music is consumed" and that this will "significantly reduce music piracy".

These are bold statements, but Nokia's initiative is indeed a game-changer in the digital music industry.

As the whole music industry grapples with the transition to digital music distribution, various models from Nokia, Apple and others will be implemented, and it will be up to consumers to vote with their wallets on what approach delivers the most value.

For more information on Nokia "Comes With Music", click here.
Photos courtesy of Shuffe|gazine


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