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September 26, 2006

Nokia's music notes

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 2:12 PM

At Nokia's big Open Studio event in New York today, the world's largest handset manufacturer hinted at what's in store for its new music services.

In August, Nokia announced it was acquiing Seattle-based Loudeye, which had been working on digital music products for many years. At the time of the purchase, Nokia didn't say why it was buying the company, but hinted that it was going to launch a Nokia-branded music service.

At the New York event, where Nokia announced that it is launching a handful of new high-end multimedia phones (the Finnish company prefers to call them computers), a little more detail on the Loudeye acquisition was revealed.

Technically, Nokia still can't say much because the merger hasn't officially closed, but Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia's executive vice president and general manager of multimedia, said in a roundabout way that it may involve the launch of a music recommendation service.

"Today is not time yet to talk about what our plans are around Loudeye, but as a pre-course and a taste of things to come, I'm introducing an experience and a community, which we call Music Recommenders," he said.

He said the typical mobile phone music service today allows people to search a database of music and buy music they are looking for. Nokia is launching a new service that will recommend music based on an expert's opinion. In a video, it showed those experts. Among them were independent music store owners in Brazil, where jungle beats are popular, and in New York, where underground hip hop lives, and in Japan, where girly pop bands are all the rave.

To gain credibility, Vanjoki said the service will have a spokesman, and that authority will be David Bowie.

"David Bowie has promised to serve as the godfather of service," Vanjoki said. "His recommendations will come from around the world, in the form of dedicated podcasts and lists of music."

The device that will do this best, Vanjoki said, is from Nokia's N-series. Vanjoki called it convergence without compromise.

For more information on the N95, which has a 5 megapixel camera, and the N75 flip phone, which will launch in the U.S. before Christmas, check the Nokia Web site.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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