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Nokia’s “MixRadio” Ups Its Game To Mix It Up With The Best

by User Not Found | Nov 25, 2013

Nokia unveiled its updated MixRadio on November 21, followed by a launch event in New York, which was live streamed on Facebook. The event was jointly hosted by Nokia executives and the Billboard magazine’s editorial director, as well as featuring the veteran musician and producer Nile Rogers, who showered the service with lavish endorsement.

Some features stay the same as the previous version, e.g. ad-free, out-of-box readiness, no requirement on registration, etc. Some are common features also seen on most of its competitions (e.g. Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music All Access, iTunes Radio, etc.), e.g. downloading for offline listening, possibility of instant purchase, tiered services (free vs. premium which in MixRadio’s case called “MixRadio+”). However, a few new features did stand out and catch our eyes:

  • “Play Me” button taking the centre stage: this is a one-click feature to get personalised mix, based on the user’s own collection, downloads and listening history (including skipping history and rating). This “fast track” to personalised radio is a cool feature we haven’t seen on competing services;

  • Richer social features: when users share playlists on a social network, e.g. Facebook, their friends can listen to the full tracks of the first few songs before being prompted to subscribe to the service.  This makes more sense for the friends, taking them from “looking at a playlist” to really “listening to a playlist”;

  • Streaming of lyrics: well it doesn’t need any introduction, but is something lots of music lovers including yours truly have dearly missed.

With the new, unique features and some of the long term features (especially ad-free streaming on free version), Nokia is clearly taking on the best in the industry to compete for the users ears. On the assets side, Nokia MixRadio’s catalogue is 26M and the service is available in 31 markets. This is a growth from 20M and 28 markets we read last time. In terms of catalogue size, Nokia MixRadio is only trailing Xbox Music and iTunes; in terms of market covered, it’s way smaller than iTunes’ 161 countries, and about on par with Spotify’s 35 markets but bigger than other competing services.

Nokia MixRadio may have a big advantage over the OTT competitors (though not over Apple and Google), that is, Nokia does not expect the music services to make profit. That’s why it can afford to offer ad-free streaming on the free version, and the price tag of $3.99 per month on MixRadio+ is among the lower ones in the market. It may get some income through selling music and winning subscription, but the ultimate purpose is to use the service as a value proposition to attract consumers to buy more Lumia phones.

Meanwhile, a few questions remain unanswered. The first is the support for Nokia’s Asha products. Currently, Nokia is offering MixRadio services to Asha in Russia, and there is the legacy “Music Unlimited” service in India open to selected feature phone models. However the long-term support of Nokia music for the Asha platform is far from clear. The second is the positioning of Xbox Music and MixRadio in the post-acquisition Microsoft. Admittedly, the two services complement each other in a few areas, e.g. the markets MixRadio covers include important markets in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa while Xbox Music’s coverage is more focused on North America and Western Europe. Also, MixRadio is more streaming centric, targeting more casual users of music on smartphones, while Xbox Music is aimed at users of full track music services. We do expect some consolidation between the two services especially in markets both serve, but, as was stated in our Insight into the acquisition deal, the complementary nature of them may continue to deliver good news to music labels and rights owners.

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