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Nokia’s Comes With Music Off to a Slow Start?

The mobile industry has been keeping a careful eye on Nokia‘s “Comes with Music” service, which builds the license fees for unlimited music downloading into the cost of a phone…and lets users keep all the music they downloaded once their deal expires. Although the service had been given a frosty reception from mobile operators—who have been busily trying to develop their own revenue streams around downloadable media—the business model is one of the first to try to build license fees for media into the cost of a device itself…and then encourage users to buy a new device once their service expires. Comes with Music isn’t up and running in North America, but Nokia has rolled it out in five European markets, including the United Kingdom.

However, UK media consultancy Music Ally reports that Comes with Music may be off to a slow start—at least in the UK. According to Music Ally, Nokia has managed to sign up about 23,000 Comes with Music users in the UK to date…a figure far lower than many industry-watchers would have expected.

Nokia has apparently refused to confirm the figures, but says it is actually pleased with the Comes with Music launch so far, particularly in markets like Singapore. Nokia claims Comes with Music customers are downloading a few hundred music tracks in their first few weeks of use, and the majority of those downloads are being down via PCs rather than over-the-air via mobile devices. Nokia also says a decent catalog of local and regional music is important to the service with local content accounting for more than a third of downloads in Comes with Music markets. Nokia also told Music Ally that Comes with Music customers are downloading up to 20 times more back catalog titles than Nokia Music Store customers.

When Nokia launched Comes with Music it indicated it expected it would have to refine and revise its business model over time to make the service appealing in different markets; the company hasn’t indicated whether it plans any changes to Comes with Music for the United Kingdom. Nokia has said it plans to bring Comes with Music to the United States, but hasn’t yet revealed any launch details.

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