For the time being, we’ll definitely have to file this one under rumor but our fingers are most certainly crossed. According to 9to5Mac’s “hunch”, which we would hope to mean anonymous reliable source, Sony BMG will soon become the second major label to get on board with Apple’s iTunes Plus offering. iTunes Plus, for those not keeping score at home, is Apple’s name for higher quality DRM-free tracks offered through its store. If this rumor pans out, Sony BMG will join EMI in making 256kbit DRM-free tracks available through iTunes. Apple launched the iTunes Plus service back in May of 2007 and initially charged a premium of 30¢ per track before seeing the light and lowering Plus prices to the normal 99¢ price point. Since then however, lack of major label adoption beyond EMI has kept the world pretty quiet about Apple’s DRM-free library. News of Sony BMG jumping on board would definitely be a huge knock against DRM and might help the other two majors, Universal and Warner, see the light.
Music lovers in the UK, Nokia now has a new phone for you. The Nokia 5310 XpressMusic ‘Comes With Music’ edition will be the first handset to feature Nokia’s new “Comes with Music” service. Makes sense, right? The subscription model music service allows phone owners one year of free access to Nokia’s music catalog which includes artists from Sony BMG, EMI, Warner Music, and Universal Music Group. Users can download tracks to one phone and one computer and are able keep the downloaded tracks after their free subscription expires. A “relatively high” download limit has been hinted at and PlaysForSure DRM is expected to hinder your overall music experience. After the trial year has ended, you can purchase new music by renewing your subscription (for a fee of course) or by purchasing on a track by track basis. If you buy a new Comes with Music phone, you can transfer your purchased music to your new phone. One little problem with that scenario is how do you coordinate a 12 month subscription service with an 18 month contract? Hmm. Hopefully that question and more will be answered on October 2 when more information about the Comes With Music service will be released at a Nokia event to be held in London.
Enough of the music service, now back to the phone. Only the music service appears to differentiate the new 5310 Comes With Music edition from the original Nokia 5310 XpressMusic phone. The phone will be sold through Carphone Warehouse who will start taking pre-orders today. Carphone Warehouse has an exclusive UK deal until the end of the year so don’t look for the phone outside of the UK anytime soon.