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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Nokia Music Store - comes with disappointment

Nokia launched its Music Store in Singapore today. I got the news through a press release in my emailbox, so I thought I'd check it out. It's always fun to check out new digital initiatives in Singapore, particularly in this case, especially since the juggernaut, Apple's iTunes Store, has yet to even appear on the radar.

Alas, my enthusiasm evaporated when I saw this roadblock:
Nokia Music Store unsupported browser

Oh my stars and garters! Nokia banned me from entering because I don't use a "supported" browser! Nightmares of the 1990s flooded my mind, you know, that period during the browser wars when websites would only work with one browser or another.

Fortunately, I had access to a Windows computer, so I fired up Firefox and loaded the Music Store... oh, silly me, it works only with Internet Explorer. Fine, I'll do what it takes. As Britney Spears sang, I'm a slave for you...

But then, curiosity kills the cat, right? As a consumer, one of the first things I noticed, besides the user interface and featured songs, was the price. Nokia charged $2 per song download. That sounded about reasonable, since Apple charges US$0.99. But $2 is actually a wee bit pricey in Singapore, where an average CD costs less than $20 -- and it contains more than 10 songs! And there's artwork and DRM-free music too.

Ah, digital rights management (DRM), that was another sticking point. The Music Store relies on Microsoft's DRM service through its Windows Media Audio (WMA) format. Since my primary computer is a Mac, WMA would be useless to me. I won't get into an argument here about whether WMA is crap compared to AAC. To a non-audiophile like me, both have sound qualities that are similarly good. So, suffice to say that with its reliance on WMA, I would be even more hard-pressed to justify buying music from Nokia.

So I guess that's it: no Nokia Music Store for me. In baseball parlance, that's three strikes, i.e.
  1. It can only be accessed through Internet Explorer on Windows computers.
  2. Each song costs $2.
  3. It uses WMA for its music format.
Nokia, seriously, I try really hard to give you some love, but you just keep beating me back on my brow. I wanted a cool phone, but your N95 was so bug-filled that I'd rather stay as far away from it as possible. I was greatly excited when you provided free Wifi on public buses, but suffered from too many dropped signals when those buses were moving, which vehicles are supposed to do.

Now, when I contemplate browsing your music catalogue -- and maybe even making a purchase or two if I find those hidden gems, you whack me upside-down with this silly error. Thank goodness, you're still in "beta" version... though I wonder why you'd announce with great fanfare like it's the real thing. Oh, you're treating your users as guinea pigs? Hmm, sounds familiar in the mobile phone industry.

Oh, and with the Music Store launch, I wonder if Nokia will bring its "Comes with Music" program to Singapore. You know, that harebrained idea of giving your customers free lifetime music with every new phone purchase that is likely to bankrupt your company.

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6 comments:

Indian Stallion said...

Yeah the store is crap. I reviewed it on my blog as well.

Yuhui said...

Ah, so you managed to explore its content and attempt to make a purchase. Yeah, I really hope it improves by leaps and bounds by the time it comes out of beta status!

Indian Stallion said...

Finally got it to work and downloaded a song.

You have to open the link to install the media bar in a separate window, otherwise it just brings you back to the home page when you try to buy something.

DRM is dead and outdated. As long as they stick to it they are not going to succeed, not when you have DRM free alternatives like MP3.

Yuhui said...

Ah, so that's why it needs IE -- it uses an ActiveX control to download music!

s@ffy said...

Hey! Check out NIN.com, Trent Reznor giving out their latest album for FREE! Best thing, they offer it in various format!

Yuhui said...

Got it liao, one day after it was released, lol.

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