Nokia to take on Apple’s iPhone

London, September 3:

Anyone ready to buy a Nokia Comes With Music pre-pay phone can download up to 2.1 million music tracks — a quarter of those available from Apple’s iTunes — onto their computer for no charge for a year.

The 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 be able to send texts and make calls.

Nokia, 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.

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 ComesWith 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.”

Already some internet service providers have sent letters to persistent illegal file sharers warning them their activities have been noticed, having reached a deal with industry body the BPI. For many parents this will be the first indication that their children are doing anything illicit on the internet.

Nokia Comes With Music, first mooted last year, is a gamble for the Finnish handset maker, which supplies four out of every 10 phones worldwide. It risks further damaging Nokia’s already fraught relationship with many major mobile phone companies. Last year, it provoked their ire by announcing its own suite of mobile services under Ovi brand.

In fact, Nokia does not yet have a mobile phone partner for Comes With Music. As

a result, anyone buying the phone will have to put their existing SIM card into it or sign up for a SIM-only deal such as O2’s Simplicity.

All five UK networks have held talks with Nokia about Comes With Music but none has found the service attractive or lucrative enough to sign up. All operators have their music download services and see no reason to subsidise a handset that connects users with Nokia’s own music store rather than their own.