Finland’s Nokia—still the world’s largest mobile handset maker—has announced it is launching a DRM-free version of its Comes with Music service in China, bundling time-limited, unrestricted access to DRM-free music from the four major music labels (plus a large number of independent distributors) into the cost of devices. Nokia is hoping the download service—which works with both phones and PCs—will give its phones a sales edge over other handsets in China, which is by far the world’s largest mobile market.
“This launch delivers a truly mass market music offering from China’s most loved mobile brand,” said Nokia’s global head of music Liz Schimel, in a statement. “Our broad range of Comes With Music enabled devices and the high quality, DRM-free catalog form the perfect legal download recipe for the world’s biggest market for mobile phones.”
Nokia will probably have an uphill battle trying to persuade Chinese consumers to purchase phones with the cost of music built into the devices. Pervasive music piracy in China has hamstrung music publishers’ and distributors’ efforts to establish significant markets in China. However, Nokia isn’t targeting entry-level phone users: initially, eight phones will offer Comes with Music service (the X6 32GB and X6 16GB, the 5230, the 5330, 5800w, 6700s, E52, and Nokia E72i) with base prices starting at €140 (about $185 US); with those prices, Nokia is likely targeting China’s emerging tech-savvy professional classes. And Nokia has significant brand momentum in China, where it is by far the top mobile handset maker.
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