Nokia launches free music service in China
Nokia Corp. began offering its free music-downloading service in China on Thursday, in the latest move by the company to attract users in the face of increasing competition in the smartphone market.
The Finland-based handset maker will offer eight handsets under its "Comes with Music" program in China, which will allow Chinese users to download free music to their computers and Nokia cell phones.
The move comes as Nokia has been shifting its focus to applications and software in the face of intensifying competition from Apple Inc. and the growing number of devices using Google Inc.'s Android operating system. The company continues to use its own Symbian software platform for smart phones, the fastest-growing area of the mobile phone market, and is pushing Comes with Music and other applications such as navigation and its Ovi online portal to differentiate its products from rivals.
Nokia already operates its music service in 30 markets, including Australia and the U.K. Nokia said Thursday it will also expand the program to India.
Prices of devices equipped with Nokia's Comes with Music start at EUR140 ($187). The service features music from world's four biggest international record labels: Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, Sony Corp.'s Sony Music, and EMI Group Ltd.
Nokia is the leading handset vendor in China, the world's largest mobile market by number of subscribers, but faces increasing competition from the growing popularity of local rivals, a thriving gray market for handsets, and high-end smart phones such as Apple's iPhone and several Android-based phones.
The company will also be dealing with the rampant use of illegal downloading services that don't restrict how users use or share their music files. China also already has free, legal music services, such as Orca Digital's Top100.cn, an advertising-supported free music downloading and streaming service that is unrestricted and backed by Google, and a free music streaming service operated by Tencent Holdings Ltd.
China's three state-owned mobile operators have launched third-generation mobile services in the past year, which allow subscribers to use services that require high-speed data transmission such as streaming video. The services have been a boon for local smart-phone sales, which research firm IDC estimates will grow to as much as 35 million by 2013, from 11 million in 2008.
Источник: Total Telecom
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