Thursday, November 13, 2008

A closer look at Comes With Music

So, there's been some to-and-fro over the claims made for Nokia's Comes With Music: the initial claim that you could download "as much music" - "unlimited", even - and keep it forever seemed to good to be true. Was it?

The Nokia Comes With Music website insists it's not. In answer to rhetorical question "how much music can I download" it's unequivocal:

You can download as much music as you want during your service term

Well, my apologies, Nokia - I thought you were going to put a limit on... hang about a moment... on the Carphone Warehouse site, they're also offering Comes With Music phones, with Unlimited downloads - only theirs has a tiny asterisk next to it. Because terms and conditions apply:
*subject to personal non-commercial and reasonable use. Failure to comply with the terms and conditions may result in termination of the service.

That there is a limit isn't a problem. It's fair enough, Nokia aren't a charity and you wouldn't expect them to allow you to take everything in one scoop. The problem is, though, there's no indication what Nokia might consider a "reasonable" level of downloading to be: 120 songs? 1000? half a million?
Your licence to download Comes With Music Content is limited to your personal non-commercial and reasonable use. If our analysis of your use of the Service suggests abusive or excessive downloading, Nokia may contact you and ask you to moderate your usage. If you fail to comply with such a request, Nokia reserves the right to restrict or terminate your use of the Service.

Blimey - it's not just the possibility that Nokia might conclude you're downloading too many tracks, it could just think you're being abusive. But if you buy a phone on an advertising promise that you can download as much as you like, how can it be abusive if that much turns out to be more than Nokia would like?

Regardless of where the limit sits, it's simply a lie to say that a service is unlimited when it is actually limited, however reasonable that limit might be. And without making it clear in advance what that level of cut-off might be, how on earth are you supposed to make a judgement call about the value of the service?

Still, at least once you download those songs, they're yours to keep forever, right?

The Nokia website is encouraging:
What happens to my music when the Comes With Music Service expires?
You can keep all the tracks you have downloaded and listen to them...

That sounds promising...
... on your registered PC

Ah, and there would be the sting. Once again, though, we have to go to the Carphone Warehouse to have the limitations explained in a bit more detail:
Registration of Authorised Devices. You may register one personal computer ("PC") and one Comes With Music Device concurrently to the Service.

Yes, just one computer. And the only mobile device you can use is your phone. So if you'd like to, say, listen to the music you've supposedly paid for in your car, you better make sure that you're able to hook your phone up to your stereo. Use a waterproof player for when you're on the beach or swimming? Tough. Got a PC in the living room and the bedroom? Or a PC and a laptop? Sorry.

The unlimited download starts to look more limited in the other sense of the word, too.

But can you move your stuff from computer to computer?
In the event you purchase a new compatible Nokia mobile device or a compatible PC or in the event of technical failure of your registered Comes With Music Device or PC you may restore the Comes With Music Content you have downloaded and/or change your registered Authorised Devices according to the following rules:

a) Restoration of Comes With Music Content
PC: During the Service Period and for a period of two years after the end of the Service Period ("Restoration Period") you may change the registered PC once every three months and re-download the content files and/or the digital keys needed to play the Comes With Music Content you had previously downloaded and/or transfer the Comes With Music Content you had previously downloaded to your new registered PC from your Comes With Music Device.

Comes With Music Device: If you upgrade your Comes With Music Device to another compatible Nokia device during the Restoration Period, you may change the registered Comes With Music Device once every three months which will allow you to transfer the Comes With Music Content you have downloaded from your PC to the new registered device and/or re-download the content files and/or the digital keys needed to play the Comes With Music Content you had previously downloaded. Please note that you are not able to change your registered Comes With Music Device during the Service Period.
Please note that during the Restoration Period you are able to change either the registered PC or Comes With Music Device once every three months, but not both of them during that period of time. Once you have changed your registered PC or Comes With Music Device, your rights to use the Comes With Music Content on the previous PC and Comes With Music Device shall expire and continued access to suchcontent on the previous PC or Comes With Music Device does not form part of the Service and may no longer be possible.

So, then, the tracks are yours to keep - but not to do as you choose with; and only for the two years after you leave the service, not forever. Oh, and only if you don't change your PC or phone more than every three months. And if you do change your phone, you're not even able to change your PC. And after two years is up? You can't even shift at all then.

So, Nokia Comes With Music does, indeed, come with some music - and, effectively, it takes its music away with it when the handset fails. It's impossible to say if it's a good deal or not financially, as there's no indication of just what you're getting. It is clear, though, that CWM doesn't offer any way of building a digital music collection. It's probably a nice add on if you're getting that phone anyway, but it's no way to buy music.