Nokia Music Service – Will it work in India?

mobile-musicLast week we were invited to the Nokia Music India Boot Camp, where the folks from Nokia gave us an introduction to the service as well as a voucher for us to try out the service.

The service itself is pretty simple to use, once you’ve downloaded the Nokia Music Software on your system (Windows is the only OS supported now). You can also directly download music from phones which ship with the Music Store client. Be aware that each song could weigh from 4MB upwards so downloading them on your handset on a GPRS would be quite slow. A Wifi connection is recommended. Tracks are typically delivered in high quality 192Kbps audio in Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. Some older tracks, may be delivered at 128 kbps.

The service as it currently is, allows you to redeem the voucher for credits to download music. You can find these coupons included in the box for all XpressMusic handsets and select Nseries and Eseries phones such as N97, N86, E75 and E71.

When we asked Mr. Vineet Taneja from Nokia about whether they had plans to start selling credits through other payment methods like credit cards, we were told that they are planning to start selling the vouchers through their retails outlets in the near future. Credit cards and other payment methods may come later.

The music from Nokia Music is protected by DRM (Windows Media DRM) so you won’t be able easily share these with your friends, and won’t work on all devices. Since Nokia is using Windows Media DRM, you are not limited to using the music only on your desktop or a Nokia handset, you can use any device which supports this DRM. You can download and use the music files from Nokia Music on upto 4 connected devices. Given the rampant “sharing” of music prevalent in markets like India, would this go well with the users of the service?

The pricing for each song download was also a question we asked Mr. Vineet. He said that he couldn’t disclose the pricing details, as they were still in talks regarding this, but he did promise that it would be cheap. Now what would cheap mean? If they try the iTunes pricing of 0.99 cents per song which translates to around Rs.47, that would be quite a lot to pay for one song. A price of Rs.5 – 15 per song may be considered reasonable.

In a market like India, a lot of people would say cheap equates to free. Nokia does have a campaign called “Comes with Music” running in select countries currently. If they’re planning on introducing this in India, I’m sure that would be an instant hit. In Comes with Music, consumers who buy select handsets from Nokia, get to download as much music as they want for 12 months. They also get to keep all the music they download after this period, which is quite a good deal. Comes with Music still hasn’t been introduced for the Indian market yet, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed and waiting for it to be introduced.

Given that 41% of Indians use mobile as music device (quoting Vineet), Nokia seems to be moving in the right direction, but the pricing of the service, ease of purchase and availability of popular and quality music would be a key decider for the success of Nokia Music India.

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Vinu Thomas

Vinu is a Technical Architect working on Web technologies and a mobile enthusiast, who likes trying out new gadgets and apps. You can follow him on Twitter @vinuthomas

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