Has THIS just happened? I'm not sure...
Nokia has announced 'Comes With Music', a poorly named but intriguing proposition which lets users buy a Nokia handset with a year of unlimited access to Universal's vast array of artists. And here's the kicker: once the subscription ends you get to keep all music you have downloaded!
Nokia said the programme will launch initially just with Universal but that it is already in discussions 'with the remaining major international labels'.
Now I - and I'm sure you - have a million questions at this point (does it apply to handsets subsidised with contracts, most notably) but sadly Nokia chose not to divulge any more information at this point, instead just dishing out a pair of quotes:
"We set out to create the music experience that people are telling us they are looking for - all the music they want in the form of unlimited downloads to their mobile device and PC," said Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia Executive VP and GM. "Even if you listened to music 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you would still only scratch the surface of the music that we're making available. Comes with Music fulfils our dream to give consumers all the music they want, wherever they want it, while rewarding the artists who create it."
Universal CEO Lucian Grainge added, "It's fantastic to work with Nokia on Comes With Music. We feel it's an innovative way for people to discover and enjoy new artists, while at the same time having access to the amazing depth of the Universal catalog (sic). Comes With Music allows our artists to reach new audiences in a very easy and affordable way."
Yep, it's back slapping without info. Still, what attracts me about this concept it that it ties so closely (and consequently must be related to) Universal's Total Music concept proposed a few months back. Presumably, other labels have been slow to hop aboard making Universal pair with Nokia to try and generate momentum.
Either way, this could be the most significant development yet for online music downloads. It's not a happy day for iTunes...