Can Nokia take a bite of the Apple?
(The Northern Echo Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) FACED with the threat of losing sales to the iPhone, mobile colossus Nokia has hit back against Apple by launching its own rival to iTunes.
The UK Nokia Music Store opened for business last week, offering millions of tracks from major artists, indie labels and up-and-coming hopefuls.
As well as accessing the site from a computer, music lovers can download tracks via their mobile phones. So far this is only possible if you own a Nokia N95 or an N81 but we're promised more models will soon be able for shopping online.
Nokia has priced the service to compete on a like-for-like basis with iTunes.
Individual tracks cost 80p and albums start at GBP8. PC users can also buy a monthly streaming subscription for GBP8 which allows them to listen to as much music as they can stand.
The store's intuitive user-interface makes streaming fulllength tracks easy, and offers options to create customised playlists and note tunes on a wish list that you can decide to buy later. Tracks purchased can also be transferred via your PC to compatible Nokia devices.
Tracks will be encoded in high quality 192 kbps Windows Media Audio and can be transferred to mobile devices via Windows Media Player. A Nokia PC Music client will be available shortly.
This will allow simultaneous CD ripping - to a PC and a mobile phone at the same time - cutting down on the time needed to build a decent music library.
The N81 handset also allows users to upload their own album artwork just like the iPhone.
It all sounds rather promising but, given iTunes' incredible success, can Nokia really make a dent in Apple's sales? Others, including Napster, Coke and Sony, have all tried and failed. But music lovers write Nokia off at their peril. As the world's leading mobile manufacturer it can integrate music playing software and a music store in a way only Apple has managed so far.
It's a bit early to write off the iPod just yet but this may be the most serious threat to Apple's dominance.
Copyright 2007 Newsquest , Source: The Financial Times Limited
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