Nokia, the world's largest mobile phone company, will launch an all-out assault on Apple's iPhone today with a new range of phones that will give music lovers access to an unlimited service.
Anyone willing buy a Nokia Comes With Music pre-pay phone will be able to download up to 2.1m music tracks - about a quarter of the number available from Apple's iTunes - onto their computer for no extra charge for 12 months.
Those tracks can be loaded onto the Nokia phone and after a year users will need to buy a new device in order to continue downloading new releases. In contrast to other so-called unlimited music services, however, if they choose not to buy a new device, they can keep all the tracks they have already downloaded.
They will still play on the user's computer and handset, which will also still be able to send texts and make calls.
Nokia, which is hoping the phone will be popular this Christmas with parents seeking to make their children's music file sharing legal, will today announce that the UK will be the first market to get Comes With Music.
The first phone will be its 5310 handset, although at least one more device will be announced in time for Christmas.
The company has signed up Carphone Warehouse, which has more than 800 shops, to stock the phone. Carphone Warehouse is also Apple's sole independent stockist of the iPhone.
Nokia's UK managing director Simon Ainslie believes the Nokia Comes With Music range will be "the number one selling product at Christmas".
"This is a unique proposition. Nobody has launched an unlimited music service that allows you to keep your music with no catches," said Ainslie. "What we are trying to do is bring back some value to the music industry from people who are not paying for music. There are a lot of parents who would like to legitimise their children's purchasing of music."
Nokia will pay the music companies a licence fee to make their catalogues available to customers and for the three major labels that have already signed up - SonyBMG, Universal and Warner Music - the service is another attempt to try and claw some revenue back from the illegal file sharers. But Nokia has yet to reach a deal with the UK's host of independent music labels or EMI.
"Comes With Music is a way for Nokia to add extra value to its handsets and generate more stickiness for its brand," said Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner. But Nokia has tailored the service to the economic downturn in its major European markets.
Source : The Guardian