Nokia launched Tuesday a free music streaming service for U.S. users of its Lumia smartphones, a move that could help the struggling handset maker compete more aggressively against rivals Apple and Google in the consumer market.
The unveiling of the new service, called Nokia Music, comes just one day before Nokia is widely expected to launch of its next-generation Lumia smartphone running Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 OS.
Nokia Music is available starting today in the Windows Phone Marketplace to all existing users of Nokia's Lumia 900 and Lumia 710 smartphones, arming them with access to over 150 "exclusive playlists" that will be updated regularly by an "expert team of US based musicologists," Nokia said in a statement.
Users will also have the option of creating their own playlists from a song library of millions of songs, and they can use Nokia Music's "Gig Finder" app to find live concerts scheduled nearby. According to Nokia, the service is completely advertisement-free and requires no registration or subscription fee.
Nokia Music could potentially combat Apple's iTunes and Samsung's Music Hub streaming services, helping to drive adoption of Lumia smartphones in the U.S. market.
"The USA is the most vibrant and competitive digital music market in the world -- by a wide margin. We have worked extra hard to ensure our service meets the expectations of the demanding, active and inspired music fans in the USA," said Jyrki Rosenberg, vice president of entertainment at Nokia. "I would like to challenge everyone to try Nokia Music and see just how easy and enjoyable the service is to use."
Nokia has failed to nestle itself among the top-five largest handset makers in the U.S., according to data released in June from mobile analysts ComScore. Apple and Samsung, by comparison, collectively account for 41 percent of the market.
Nokia Music will play an especially important role in determining the success of Nokia's existing Lumia devices, which run Windows Phone 7.5 and aren't able to upgrade to Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8. While the phones will transition to Windows Phone 7.8, a slimmed-down version of the new OS that delivers only a handful of its features, the addition of Nokia Music could make the Lumia lineup look fresher in the eyes of U.S. consumers.
PUBLISHED SEPT. 4, 2012