Nokia's music service set for Australia, Singapore

CANNES, France Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:50am EST

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CANNES, France (Reuters) - Nokia, the world's top mobile phone maker, plans to roll out its unlimited music service in Australia and Singapore later this quarter and is eyeing further expansion in Europe and the United States.

Tero Ojanpera, the head of entertainment and communities at Nokia, told the MidemNet annual digital music gathering in Cannes that the roll out would continue following a good experience in Britain.

"The next two countries which we are going to roll out in the next 10 weeks are going to be in Asia, in Australia and Singapore," he told the conference. "We'll be launching there in the first quarter of 2009, in February and March."

Like any organization trying to sell music, Nokia needs to secure rights agreements with both the recorded music side of the business and the publishing side. Ojanpera said the group had recently secured a breakthrough on a pan-European publishing deal.

"In 2009 we will also be looking at the United States and Latin America," he said. "That's the plan."

Nokia's "Comes With Music" service offers unlimited music from the four major music labels and many independents. The music can be kept after the yearly contract has expired.

The individual tracks can be downloaded to the phone and a single computer and are free, though the cost of the music is reflected in the price of the phone itself.

Carphone Warehouse, the sole retailer of Nokia's service in Britain, recently cut the price of one of the phones and analysts speculated that the phone had yet to take off.

Ojanpera declined to say how the phone was selling in Britain but said the service would gain momentum as it increases the number of handsets on which it is available.

He said the company was considering providing some content in exchange for advertising, such as videos and news from music magazines to accompany the sale of music.

"2009 will be a very big investment from our part," he said.

(Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by Anthony Barker)

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