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Fri, Apr 09, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Nokia sets sights on Chinese jumpstart for struggling music site

REUTERS , BEIJING AND HELSINKI

Nokia will launch its music downloading service in China, the world’s largest mobile market, looking to emerging markets to invigorate the struggling service that competes with Apple Inc’s popular iTunes.

The world’s top cellphone maker will offer music from major labels and a number of independents as part of the China launch for its Comes with Music service tailored for downloads to cellphones and PCs, Nokia said yesterday.

“The launch of Nokia’s unlimited music download offering in China adds further momentum to Nokia’s leadership in the world’s highest growth markets including Brazil, Russia and Indonesia,” the Finnish firm said in a statement announcing the launch. “The forthcoming launch of the service in India will add significant scale and differentiation in another critical market.”

Nokia unveiled the service in late 2008 in Britain — seen as a test market for new mobile services in Europe — but it has lacked operator support and has gained little traction in developed markets since then.

Reasons behind the lackluster performance include use of older supporting handsests for the product at its launch, software that some considered not user-friendly and a product offering that was difficult to understand.

The new service will initially be offered over eight Nokia models for sale in China, with entry prices starting from 140 euros (US$187).

“Globally, we have expanded the reach of our music service to 30 markets in just 18 months,” said Liz Schimel, global head of music, adding that labels signed on to the deal include Universal Music, EMI and the music arms of Sony and Time Warner’s Warner Bros.

Nokia announced that the China service would break with its previous versions of its Comes with Music services by not including DRM software, which limits sharing of songs between different devices.

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