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Nokia Phases Out Free Music Downloads

January 17, 2011

Free music downloads are being phased out of the subscription services of cellphone plans sold by Nokia Corporation.

Until now, free music downloads were considered a high profile feature of Nokia’s cell phones in 27 countries, but the service has gained little traction since its 2008 launch.

Nokia will continue to sell phones with 12-month subscription to free music downloads in China, India and Indonesia and with 6-month subscriptions in Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.

The four major record labels — Vivendi’s Universal Music, EMI, Warner Music Group and the music arm of Sony — originally signed up for the service, which was seen at start as a major challenger for Apple’s iTunes, but has lacked operator support and failed to attract many customers.

“The markets clearly want a DRM-free music service,” said a spokesman for Nokia, adding the firm continues to offer DRM-free tracks through its music store in 38 countries.

Digital rights management (DRM) software ties downloaded music to the device and can be a difficult to understand product offering.

Consumers with the free music bundle in the 27 countries where the sale of the service have stopped will continue to have access until their subscriptions run out.

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