In the excitement of Nokia’s announcement of its first Windows phones today, one would be forgiven for missing the announcement of Nokia’s first major move in the music space since Comes With Music: Mix Radio.
Nokia’s post-Comes With Music strategy was always going to be a difficult one to get right. Regular readers will know I was a big fan of the Comes With Music, subsidized-music-on-handset model but that I thought it might be someone else who makes it a success (Boinc will certainly have a good go at it). Nokia paid the price of being the first mover – as Apple’s successes attest, it’s the early follower who normally wins out. Nokia bore the brunt of a lot of criticism for Comes With Music, some of it warranted, some not, and then cleared the decks, with key figures like Liz Shimel moving on. Music still matters to Nokia, a lot, as it does to most CE companies. But Nokia got burned by investing heavily in a highly disruptive model that delivered negative ROI. Meanwhile Apple stuck with a basic download store and continues to clean up.
This is the world into which Nokia’s post-Comes With Music strategy was born. And the result? Nokia Mix Radio. No subscription, no download fees, no log in etc. You simply tap the home screen and music starts playing and you can even select to listen to the music offline. Comes With Music exit stage left, make way for Comes With Radio.
Nokia Mix Radio is certainly no Spotify challenger and it is certainly no Comes With Music. But that’s the point. Nokia’s post-Comes With Music, music strategy is all about looking at how to get the best ROI on delivering differentiated on-device music experiences without having to try to change the world.
Of course, expect Nokia’s music strategy to ramp up, and for Mix Radio to be a stepping stone – there may even be a Microsoft play – but don’t expect Comes With Music take two.