I still remember the day iTunes launched. For years, recording artists and their labels had been fighting to prevent Internet users from downloading music off the net. Record companies saw compact discs as the only legitimate way to distribute music. Although there were small online music initiatives like the legalized Napster, there were practically no feasible online outlets for downloading quality music. Apple changed that by launching iTunes and ushering the world into the new era of digital music.
It was not long before practically every single company that had even the remotest link to the music industry (from MP3 manufacturers to software giants to mobile device producers) wanted a piece of the digital music industry pie. Nokia was one such company and when they launched their flat-rate digital music service, I was initially rather impressed. Under their ‘Nokia Comes with Music’ label, you paid a certain monthly (or if you chose, annual) fee and were entitled to download an unlimited amount of music from their flagship digital music store. It sounded like a good deal, but the service was riddled with problems and did not gel well with customers or with service providers.
I was not surprised, therefore, to find out that Nokia is shutting down its digital music service (at least in the present form) in most of the countries it was being offered in. Apparently, the think tanks at Nokia are working on a new avatar of the store that will be more economically feasible and consumer-friendly than its current form.
I have to say, although I am a little saddened by an industry giant shutting down, it is hardly surprising. Nokia was a relative latecomer to the industry and any entrant into this particular industry has to be fiercely innovative to avoid being shunted out by competition like iTunes. Interestingly enough, Nokia’s music service will remain in operation in countries like India. India, for the record, does not have an iTunes store (i.e. no competition to fling Nokia out).