x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Nokia music downloads to hit UAE

Mobile firm announces the launch of one of the first legal music download services in the Middle East.

Your next mobile phone could come with all the online music you can handle, after Nokia announced yesterday it would launch one of the first legal music-download services in the Middle East.  The Finnish mobile maker, which accounts for more than one in every three handsets sold worldwide, said yesterday that the Nokia Music Store would launch in the UAE by December.  "It made sense for us to start with this market," said Ayman Chalhoub, who manages Nokia's music business in the region. "This is really an internet business, and the connectivity here, with broadband subscribers, 3G mobile networks, mobile penetration, it is very strong. Music is a local experience and this is an excellent place to start." Part of the company's package of online services, the Nokia Music Store lets users sample and download music on their computers and mobile phones, paying either a monthly subscription fee or a fixed price for each track. Internationally, Nokia is one of the main proponents of the "comes-with-music" concept. Under such a system, the purchase of a mobile device includes access to free music downloads from the store. Research suggests the offering can increase demand for devices by up to 50 per cent. On launch, users will be able to subscribe to an unlimited monthly service that allows them to listen to all the music they want, without downloading and owning the files. Digital download services like Apple's iTunes Music Store are yet to launch in the Middle East, despite such services being the fastest-growing segment of the global entertainment market. The costs of establishing country-specific distribution deals with major music labels often outweigh the benefits of entering relatively small markets, onlookers say.  Influential Arab music labels like the Saudi Arabia-based Rotana group, however, had enthusiastically signed distribution deals with Nokia, Mr Chalhoub said. When it launches, the store will be one of the only ways for local consumers to legally download music from the internet. In late May, the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) released details of Getmo, an online music download service that it will launch across the Middle East and North Africa with the entertainment group Sony BMG.  The service will partner with third-party companies like consumer-goods groups and retailers, including credit for music downloads with commonly purchased goods and services. ADMC, which is the parent company of The National, will officially launch Getmo at the Gitex technology conference in Dubai on Oct 19. Prior to yesterday's announcement, Nokia's music strategy for the region consisted of small steps to promote the music capabilities of its devices. The company released a regional adaptation of its music manager software, which helps users manage their digital collections and transfer them to Nokia phones. It had also partnered with Arabic music labels to include sample pop songs on new devices sold in the region. tgara@thenational.ae