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Nokia to Offer Universal Music Group's Catalog

Nokia to Offer Universal Music Group's Catalog

Nokia and Universal have joined forces to offer free downloads on certain Nokia phones, beginning in 2008.

December 5, 2007 —

Nokia and Universal Music Group recently announced that beginning in 2008, they would allow Nokia customers who owned certain phones to have unlimited downloads from the Universal catalog. This is seen as an important move from both the mobile phone and music industry.  While Nokia and other carriers have started to market cell phones as media devices (in the wake of the iPhone), the music industry continues to struggle with piracy.

The announcement is important for Nokia, which hopes to become an Internet company along the lines of Google. Nokia established an online music store to rival Apple's iTunes in a move that preceded the agreement with Universal. Nokia will begin offering the phones and music downloads in 2008 and specifics were not announced. Nokia did not state how much the phones would cost, but it is expected that only premium models will be included.  It is expected that Universal will receive a percentage of phone sales. 

Some analysts see the agreement as part of a begrudging acceptance on the part of the music industry that online piracy will not end. "It's one thing to have people downloading free music illegally." said Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research. "What is bold and strategically important about this is that they are tacitly accepting that they will never get digital youth to pay for music."

Some consumers are suspicious of the arrangement, which allows customers to download music for 12 months after purchasing a new phone. Customers keep the music beyond that time, but it is unlikely that they will be able to burn the music onto CD's or other devices. There is also concern over how much Nokia will charge for the phone since Universal is charging Nokia for the use of the catalog.

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