Nokia launched a new music service Tuesday in the U.K. that bundles free access to music with the purchase of a phone.
The new service called "Comes with Music" offers users of certain Nokia phones a year's subscription to the company's music service. The program will initially be offered through Carphone Warehouse in the U.K., but Nokia has plans to eventually roll it out globally.
Nokia first announced the Comes With Music service last year. The service essentially bundles access to digital music with the purchase of a new handset. The first phone to use the service is the 5310 XpressMusic device. With the free one-year subscription to the service, Nokia users can download as many songs as they want and keep the songs even after the subscription expires.
This is a clear differentiator from other music stores and services. Apple's iTunes requires users pay for individual songs or albums. Verizon Wireless and Real have launched the new Rhapsody music store for mobile phones. It also allows subscribers to download and listen to as much music as they like for $15 a month. But once users stop paying the subscription fee, access to the music disappears.
Like the Rhapsody service, Nokia's music service allows subscribers to share their music with other subscribers.
It's not known yet how much Nokia will charge for the new 5310 XpressMusic with the one-year music subscription. Carphone Warehouse currently sells the prepaid version of the 5310 for about $145, including $18 worth of talk time. T-Mobile USA has subsidized it for about $50 with a two-year contract, making it much cheaper option than Apple's iPhone 3G, which costs $200 with AT&T's subsidy.
Nokia is clearly going after Apple with the launch of the new music store and the bundled offering. The company, which is the No. 1 maker of cell phones in the world, sees services as a key component of its strategy going forward.
While Nokia's music store is much smaller than what is currently offered by iTunes, the company has managed to sign up three of the largest music labels, Universal, Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group.
Nokia hasn't said when it will begin rolling out the Comes With Music bundle in other countries. The Nokia Music Store is currently only available in a handful of markets, including much of Europe, Singapore and Australia. U.S. customers will likely have to wait awhile before they can get access to the Nokia Music Store or the Comes With Music bundle.