Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nokia Music Store: Fail

I've just recently renewed my mobile phone subscription plan and get a Nokia N78.

It came along with free $20 of downloads from their online music store for you to get started on.

"Hey, great" I thought to myself, I'll get to download music legally and find the tracks I want. iTunes and Amazon only allow downloads in the USA.

Now that's about as great as my experience felt.

First, their music store only allows IE users. Nope, not Firefox users, or Google Chrome. Only Internet Explorer.

Fine, I choose a track, "Way Back Into Love" from the movie "Music & Lyrics" and whadya you know. That single isn't downloadable. You have to download the entire album. (Even worse, I couldn't find the track the first few searches. It returned nothing.)

Okay, how about something else. I tried "Mandy" by Barry Manilow. An oldie should be easier. Then I try downloading it, and then... IE crashes on Vista. Okay, so it's probably a problem with Vista. Fortunately my credit balance is still intact.

I can't download the track without installing a one-time plugin. But it's about 7-8Mb. (I can't remember). Fortunately, I have broadband.

After downloading, it's stored in my music folder. But... my default player, Windows Media Player can't play it! It needs a license.

You can however play it within Internet Explorer plugin. The plugin then downloads the license and I can play it now. And my windows media player can play it as well now.

How about transferring to my mobile? Dragging the file to my mobile fails as it says that my rights are restricted. Oooookay. I start up Nokia Music Manager to transfer the file.

But the Nokia Music Manager has a really crummy interface. I set it to search my hard disk for songs. I've got like 3300+ tracks. Now to look for Barry Manilow. There's no autosearch function! I've got to scroll through my list to find the tracks I want. Yes, my entire 3000+ tracks.

I transfer it to my mobile successfully, but then... my mobile refuses to play it without a valid license. It then starts my mobile browser to have me log in to music store and acquire the license. The webpage first says that I have to pay to acquire the license again. But it's misleading, because the webpage hasn't finished downloading yet. If I was impatient, I would have closed the browser. Moments later, the login form appears, I log in and the license is acquired.

In summary, I understand the reason for acquiring the license because music companies need to prevent piracy. But the number of steps required just puts me off. Downloading doesn't acquire the license yet. It has to be acquired on each device it's transferred to. Transferring files isn't drag and drop, it needs Nokia's Music Manager which isn't very easy to manage when you have thousands of tracks on your hard disk.
Acquiring license on your mobile also requires a data connection. If your data plan doesn't have some free traffic or your mobile doesn't have WLAN you'll be charged

All that hassle for a $2 track? I would have preferred $1.50. At $2 I am slightly more tempted to use filesharing or just buying the CD and ripping it. In the USA it's 0.99 per track. That's about $1.45 converted to SGD.

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