Nokia launched its new music download store today. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at it on Tuesday night and what can I say? It’s like almost every other download store that isn’t iTunes but without the bits that make them stand out. The quirky and obscure tunes on eMusic? Nokia is more about Britney. Decent spread of DRM-free content that 7Digital offers? Look elsewhere. High quality unrestricted MP3s? You’ll want Bleep. OK the £8-a-month subscription offer just for streaming tunes isn’t bad but it’s nothing Napster doesn’t already offer.
Granted it’s very slick and shiny and seems pretty nice to actually use but unless you’re a Windows user running Internet Explorer you’ll have to find your tunes elsewhere (as I found out when I tried to download something on my Mac at work today). Of course it’s DRM’d up to the eyeballs too, which to me seems like a huge step back – this isn’t 2004.
It’s obvious that Nokia will use the store and its Nseries handsets as the starting point to push over-the-air downloads straight to handsets but right now that’s only supported by two phones: the N81 and 8GB N95 (the nice black one). Not forgetting that until we get all-inclusive data packages as the norm no one in their right mind will willingly pay for data costs on top of the song price to download music.
I asked the Nokia chaps what the plans were to roll it out to other phones and right now the idea is to keep it as Nokia handsets only – all very iTunes. With Radiohead et al championing consumer freedom and flexible pricing it makes me wonder what place a download store like this has. Sure it’s nice to look at and the DRM thing never hurt iTunes (despite all its faults) but you try using a Nokia-bought song on your new Nano. Sorry Nokia but you’ll need more than a nice interface to win me over.