updated 01:15 pm EDT, Wed April 22, 2009
Nokia CWM Disappointment
Nokia's Comes With Music unlimited download service has performed well short of expectations, analysis by UK research group Music Ally says. The firm estimates that only 23,000 people have bought the special phones equipped with 1 year of music service and says the number is exceptionally low given the amount of advertising. The UK was the first country to adopt the service and is considered a potential sign of Comes With Music's performance elsewhere.
"If anything I was rather kind in not saying it was a complete catastrophe," Paul Brindley of Music Ally says. "It's a big disappointment because very rarely, if ever, have we seen a digital music service that's been so widely promoted in the mainstream media."
Nokia's music head Tim Grimsditch says the company hasn't released any statistics and thus that any numbers are unofficial, but defends Comes With Music as having a "very new business model" and says Nokia hopes to adjust both the strategy itself as well as its marketing pitch. A positive report should be available within 6 months, he says.
If the estimate is accurate, the figure represents a poor start for the service and for Universal Music, which is responsible for originally creating the concept. The label had seen Comes With Music as a way of evading dependence on Apple by putting a greater reliance on subscription music for phones rather than pay-per-track downloads on PCs. However, Music Ally's Brindley argues that Comes With Music has ultimately pushed users towards Apple as Nokia's insistence on protected Windows Media files has prevented customers from easily moving their songs to the Apple devices they already have. The removal of copy protection from iTunes songs is thought to be in some cases encouraging a further shift away from Nokia's strategy.
"People just want to be able to do what they want to do with the music," he says. "Consumers will ask, why can't I put this on my iPod? Obviously, Nokia wants to use this as a way to get people away from using music on their iPods, but as a music service in itself, Comes With Music just hasn't hit the mark."