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Comes With Carriers?

1:00 PM -- Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) confirmed Monday it is no longer selling subscriptions to Ovi Music Unlimited, its unlimited music download-service/mobile-phone bundle first introduced in 2007 as Comes With Music. (See Nokia Unveils Comes With Music.)

The plans never gained traction with consumers or the support of wireless operators, who saw Nokia as a threat rather than a potential partner. In fact, Comes With Music never came to the U.S. despite many false starts. Nokia will continue to offer it in six countries, but not the 27 others it used to be offered in.

The fact that carrier support appears important to make unlimited music successful bodes well for Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP), which recently became the first operator to attempt a similar move with Muve Music, an unlimited download service for $10 more per month. But it's still a challenging value proposition. (See Cricket Comes With Music Too and CES 2011: Cricket Chirps About New Service.)

To me, mobile music just makes sense. People love music and they always carry their mobile phones. It really should work. But people also love not paying for things, so unless you're iTunes, any service that asks them to do so is bound for trouble. There are too many other free (although often not unlimited and, often, not legal) options.

Cricket may have more luck since it cuts out the middleman and tacks Muve on to the monthly bill, but I think operators will continue to tread lightly into mobile music. There have been too many Comes With Music-style misfires in the past.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:15:13 PM
re: Comes With Carriers?

Spotify seems to be one company who could break the mold. It'll have to prove itself in the US though and so far it's all empty promises for a launch here. Music labels are weary of the potential too.

Radvan 12/5/2012 | 5:15:10 PM
re: Comes With Carriers?

The extent of carrier involvement in music depends on location. In the U.S. with greater smartphone adoption, there is a better experience (the iPhone is an iPod Touch with phone) and more opportunity for content providers to avoid the carrier. In other countries, service providers have more control over the market, they often do provide music services through Value Added Service Providers - even with feature phones.


Another factor affecting adoption is dealing with the music owners/record companies. Spotify's inability to clear that hurdle has delayed its U.S. introduction. But they aren't the only company that had issues running that gauntlet. 

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