Comes With Music heads to Australia

Nokia service will launch in March with touchscreen phone

BRISBANE, Australia -- Nokia's Comes With Music is coming to Australia on March 20. The Finnish mobile handset giant said Wednesday that it will launch its all-you-can-eat mobile music service Down Under with its 5800 XpressMusic touchscreen cell phone, which has shifted more than a million units since going on sale in a string of markets last October.

The 5800 XpressMusic device will carry a recommended price tag of AUS$979 ($640.36) for the 12-month Comes With Music-enabled subscription. An 18-month subscription on the same handset will cost $1,109 ($724.79).

Australian mobile users will be among the world's first to get a chance to play with Nokia's unlimited download offering. The U.K. was the launch market in October, well ahead of plans to release the product in continental Europe and a possible launch in North America. Nokia has recently confirmed Singapore would be in the next wave of its international rollout, but has not yet committed to a start date there.

Label executives down under have welcomed the new arrival. "This is likely to be the start of a number of mobile phone subscription music services to enter the market, which will all contribute to the growth of legitimate digital music accessibility and sales," Sony Music Australia chairman and CEO Denis Handlin tells "There is no doubt that music and phones go to together very well and Sony Music welcomes the new Nokia service."

At launch, four million titles licensed from the four majors and many indies will be available through the Australian Nokia Music Store. Consumers can either download songs direct to their 5800 XpressMusic handset or to PC and transfer the music to the device. Downloads are protected with Windows Media DRM, but can be kept after the subscription expires.

Users of the Australian service won't be tied in to any one service provider plan. And unlike in the United Kingdom, the music plan will be available across numerous retailers.

Nokia cleared its final hurdle before its Australia launch when it recently struck a licensing agreement with the Australasian Performing Right Association and sister organization the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society, covering the societies' repertoire of 10 million-plus songs.

"We've had such a great reception with the industry and from the major labels. Everyone has been willing to work with us and get their artists involved," Karen Farrugia, Nokia Australia's music manager, said. "Because it is such a new concept everyone is very interested and excited to see how it is going to go."