Subscription music plan anchors Nokia’s iPhone volley

David Braue
25 February, 2009
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Nokia has been sabre-rattling in its fight against Apple for some time, but the 20 March Australian launch of its Comes With Music subscription music service – and accompanying Nokia 5800 XpressMusic iPhone competitor – will be the clearest indication so far that Nokia isn’t quite ready to cede the phone-cum-music player market to Apple just yet.

Comes With Music is a subscription music service that provides direct access to the Australian Nokia Music Store, which Nokia claims stocks 4 million tracks “from local and international artists”. Although the music is sold using a flat-rate subscription model, Comes With Music allows subscribers to keep all the music they download permanently.

That makes it significantly different than existing US-centric subscription music services such as Napster To Go and Yahoo! Music’s Rhapsody, which can revoke the user’s right to play the music at any time and don’t transfer ownership of all the music to customers.

Australia is the third market to get Comes With Music, following the UK and Singapore.

Anchoring Nokia’s pending launch is the local release of the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic smartphone, which combines 8GB memory (enough for around 3000 songs, Nokia claims), surround sound speakers, and a 3.2-inch touch screen for music control and finger or stylus-based input. There’s also a plectrum included for keen air guitarists, although it’s not clear entirely how it would be used.

Targeted directly at Apple’s iPhone and iTunes Music Store – which does not offer a comparable subscription music service – the unit incorporates a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and 25 fps VGA-quality video recording. There’s also a 3.2 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss lens and direct links with Ovi, Flickr and Facebook.

The phone, which has already shipped over 1 million units, will come bundled with a 12-month Comes With Music subscription for $979 or, in some places, an 18-month subscription for $1109. See Nokia Australia’s Web site for more information.

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