Nokia Hopes To Make A “Hit” With Its Free Streaming Music Service In The U.S. Market

Following on the heels of Samsung’s Music Hub premium streaming service launch last month, Nokia announced on Tuesday that it is bringing its “Nokia Music” free streaming music service to the U.S. Unveiled nearly a year ago at the “Nokia World” event and in conjunction with the Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 device launches, Nokia Music’s U.S. debut includes access to 150 exclusive, and U.S.-curated playlists, a Pandora-like feature that lets consumers create their own personalized playlists or channels, offline music-listening capabilities, and a location-based feature (“GIG FINDER”) that provides localized music-related information. And, all these bells and whistles are not only free, but uninterrupted by advertising. This may be one of the critical differentiators for Nokia: a “no advertising” value-proposition is the primary reason why consumers would upgrade to premium music services from free

Not unlike other OEMs, including Samsung, HTC (via its acquisition of MOG), and Sony, Nokia is focused on bolstering its services positioning, and enhancing the appeal of the Lumia smartphone portfolio. The service should be easier to discover, as the app will be pre-loaded on new Lumia devices, and for in-market Lumia 900 and Lumia 710 devices the app can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Marketplace. So, while “Nokia Music” can certainly play-up its out-of-the box, no need to register and no advertising value proposition, among other features, the company’s success hinges upon extending its device presence, marketing and app distribution efforts via Microsoft Windows Phone Marketplace.

Nokia not only faces challenges in breaking into a highly saturated and competitive music streaming market (63% of digital music listeners are listening to free radio streaming services-see chart), but also needs to prove that it can successfully market and deliver on a compelling music services offer (versus its albeit early and different download, but previously failed “Comes With Music” offer). It just begs the question: can Nokia compete with the likes of Pandora that dominate the free radio streaming category (with one-fourth of Android smartphone users accessing the app in July), and emerging, high-profile new entrant in the free streaming category, Spotify, among others?

While “Nokia Music” at face value does not look to compete with Microsoft’s premium “Zune Music Pass,” both services enable music downloads/purchases (MP3s). However, Nokia is working with Microsoft to ensure that while music purchases can originate from both services, access will be seamless – with all purchases residing in the “My Music” collection on the device.