Less than three months ago the daddy of mobile handset manufacturers, Nokia, announced a strategy to separate-out its Consumer Internet Services division as a core business unit.
Today the Finnish company will launch a worldwide music download service to rival Apple’s iTunes – having recently felt Apple muscle-in on their turf.
Alongside this move; its mobile content-sharing site, Mosh, and recent acquisition of media-sharing network Twango, are also being closely watched by mobile operators who have failed to make any impact on the music download market.
According to data published by M:Metrics, the research company:
…of the approximately 36m people who listened to music on their mobile phone from April to June in the US and Europe’s five biggest markets, fewer than 14 per cent had downloaded from an operator portal
Nokia’s music site – the most substantial push into online services since opening Club Nokia in 1998 – will be based on Loudeye, the Seattle-based online music company that Nokia bought for $60m in October last year. Loudeye is rumored to have a library of about 1.6m tracks following its own acquisition of UK download service OD2 in 2004; much fewer than the 5m held by iTunes and Napster’s 3m.
Also expected to be unveiled during the launch event at London’s Ministry of Sound nightclub are Nokia’s new entertainment handsets – including the 8Gb music edition of its N95 model.
Analysts, like Ben Wood of CCS Insight, reckon that falling hardware sales will encourage more mobile equipment companies to shift toward service offerings. Sony Ericsson, which sold 60m music phones last year, has also dabbled in music services, with the launch of M-Buzz in September 2006.
Services are not going to have a massive impact on Nokia’s balance sheet this year or next – but they have an eye for the long term… The web will inevitably become a more important part of people’s lives and they need to at least have a seat at the table.