Let the mobile music wars commence!

28 Nov 2008

With the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic now shipping, all the players who will influence operator and artist revenues – including Apple with its iPhone, and RIM with its BlackBerry Storm – are now present on the battlefield.

The highly anticipated Nokia 5800 XpressMusic is now, or soon will be, available in select markets globally, Nokia said this morning.

In the past week, RIM launched its Blackberry Storm with Vodafone, which features unparalleled audio and video performance for a BlackBerry device.

In a similar vein to the Nokia 5800, the Sony Ericsson W350i comes with instant music access, download on the move capabilities and allows users to play games like Guitar Legend. It also offers Track ID technology, which allows you to identify a song that you hear on its FM radio in seconds.

And let’s not forget that the beachhead held by Apple’s iTunes – mostly thanks to devices such as the iPod and the iPhone – will be catered for largely by the iPhone 3G, which has been on the market since July.

The real winners from this situation, however, will no doubt be the mobile operators, who will benefit from the additional revenues that music, alongside advertising, should bring to their coffers as ARPU (average revenue per user) levels decline.

In essence, music will be just one pillar on which these operators will rely for future revenues, along with social media. All the devices on the market today are being positioned to enable integration with services such as YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and MySpace.

A new report in recent days from Frost & Sullivan estimated that the mobile social and content advertising market revenues should reach €2.18bn in 2012 in Europe. Mobile content advertising, ad-based music, video, TV and games will represent the major source of revenues.

“To achieve high revenues, the mobile advertising industry will need to successfully confront three main challenges,” said Saverio Romeo, Frost & Sullivan research analyst.

“What should be concentrated on is: continuously enhance the mobile user experience through high-speed connectivity and high-quality user interfaces; use ads as a transparent value to consumers’ mobile experience, without being intrusive; and educate the advertising industry on how to exploit the advertising power of mobile devices.

“If these challenges are not adequately faced, the advertising market will not grow as strongly as the mobile industry expects,” Romeo said.

Shipping today, the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic offers all the music essentials, including a graphic equaliser, 8GB memory for up to 6000 tracks, support for all main digital music formats and a 3.5mm jack. Built-in surround-sound stereo speakers offer the industry’s most powerful sound.

“When it comes to music phones, people all over the world want a device that is a great music experience and still works really well as a mobile phone, without sacrificing features,” said Jo Harlow, vice-president, Nokia.

“The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic delivers on this, and allows consumers to quickly and easily access and share the content that is most important to them with the people who are most important to them.”

The Nokia 5800 XpressMusic also features a 3.2-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens and, with a single touch, images or videos can be shared via a favourite online community, such as Share on Ovi, Flickr, or Facebook.

Ensuring a seamless music experience, Nokia 5800 XpressMusic also provides easy access to browse and purchase tracks from the Nokia Music Store, where applicable, while the newly updated Nokia Music PC software allows for easy drag-and-drop transfer of songs and management of any music collection.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic phone is available in select markets from today

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years