Nokia is soon to unleash a music download model that will unlikely be anything we've seen before.
With the world's largest online music vendor, Apple, announcing significant changes to iTunes, everyone else will need to be prepared to offer something extraordinary if they want our hard-earned money. Nokia's Comes with Music is exactly that.
Oh yeah? What's so good about it?
Free music, like free beer, is usually enough to catch our attention, but 12 full months of free music sounds like lunacy. Starting soon, Nokia will bundle an activation code with selected media-centric handsets. This code will allow you to browse and download anything you like from the for a whole year, which you get to keep at the end of the 12 months.
What's the catch?
We've dug deep to find the catch, but Nokia assures us that it is exactly as described. There's no restriction on which tracks can be downloaded and there will be no fair use policy as far as we can see. The only catch, if you can call it that, is that the tracks you download are only playable on certain Nokia handsets and the Nokia Music browser on your PC.
So the music is DRM protected?
Yes. All the music on the Nokia Music Store is in DRM-protected WMA file format and you will only be able to play the tracks on the phone you've bought and one authorised PC. This requires you to have Windows Media Player 11 installed and also means you definitely need a PC to run it all successfully (take that Apple!). This is obviously Nokia's attempt to wean us off our collective iTunes addiction, but it's definitely not a more open system than the one being employed by Apple, especially with Apple going in the other direction with a DRM-free library of music.
I don't care! 12 free months of music is all I want!
If all the talk of scary, scary DRM hasn't turned you off the idea of free (legal) music, then you won't have to wait much longer to get into Comes with Music. In the UK, Nokia launched the service with the followed soon after by a re-packaged Nokia N95 8GB. In Australia, we've been told to expect the fun to kick off in either February or March, most likely to coincide with the launch of the touchscreen .
Stay tuned for more hard details about the launch of Comes with Music down under. In the meantime, jump on the forums and tell us what you make of the concept.