Nokia's Comes With Music on the 5800: Nokia's attempt to out-iTunes iTunes

Nokia announced their Comes With Music program last month, a media download offering with backing from Sony BMG, Warner Music Group, EMI, and Universal Music Group.

The system, along with the Nokia Music Store, has about 5 million tracks currently available and Nokia has announced the Music PC client for easy downloads. You can drag CDs into the application for immediate ripping. Comes With Music streamlines that process by offering unlimited over-the-air downloads your first year of phone ownership – provided you own a CWM handset – and the music remains in your possession after your contract is up. The contract lasts from 12 to 18 months and you enable the service by entering a code that will come with your new phone.

Comes With Music is a bold move for a company traditionally stuck in the low- to mid-range feature phone market. The previous XpressMusic phones were Nokia’s first “media phones” aimed at folks who specifically wanted to listen to music on their phones. Traditionally, Nokia’s lines tend to skew to developing markets with their candy bar and slider phones and the high end with their Symbian S60 phones.

Nokia’s music strategy based on the “give them a little taste and then they’ll pay for it” idea offered by sites like MySpace and imeem where the music is ostensibly free but you are encouraged to pay down the line. As Erick pointed out, this is almost a radio model – companies pay 9 cents per streamed track and hope that their good will is paid back through sales. Sadly, the risk is carried by Nokia if you give up on their music store once the contract is up. However, planting that seed (“Nokia=music downloads”) is an important first step. Nokia needs CWM to compete in media – a realm they’ve never quite entered in all their years. New services like Ovi are covering the web services space – a good move – but music and video are not Nokia’s strong suit although their phones are powerful – and compelling – enough to warrant a second look.