I was at the media event earlier where Nokia launched their Nokia Music Store in Singapore, their new online music store.
The presentation was kinda lame, they had this girl covered in gold paint going on about the evolution of music devices from gramaphones to cassettes to CDs to ...yawn, it was just really boring.
Then that was followed by this guy with wires coming out of him, and he was supposed to symbolize a typical online music store giving MP3s with poor bitrates, 10 seconds previews, limited catalogue etc. That was followed by a conversation between two music lovers who are speaking about the perfect music store accessible by phones, desktops or web.
I don't know, I found the whole thing very unexciting and long-winded, and the fact that their GM had to refer to a 2 or 3 page handout on a stand during his speech just doesn't inspire confidence in the product, if you are that excited about your own product do you really need a handout? (Points on a cuecard I can still understand)
Anyway enough about the event, decided to check out the music store for myself. Launched my Firefox browser, entered the url ( http://music.nokia.com.sg ) and immediately faced my first hurdle:
Are you freaking kidding me? I can't even think of any major site now that doesn't support Firefox. Minus points right off the bat. And if you are on a Mac you are out of luck as well. You gotta love technology that alienates specific users right from the start.
So I fired up my rarely used IE 7 and decided try and buy some music. The press kit came with a gift voucher card that gives you 10 free song downloads, so I entered the url on the card (http://music.nokia.com.sg/gift) and I got this:
Strike 2! URL doesn't work. You would think something like that would be fixed before an official launch. Tried a few times and gave up and then decided to try the "Redeem PIN" link on the main page and fortunately that worked, 20 dollars was credited to my account. (It's 2 dollars per song, 16 dollars for an album.)
There is a top singles column on the main page, so I clicked on Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music.
K I thought the recommendations at the bottom were nice, although not sure about their accuracy. But I just wanted to buy the track so I clicked on the down arrow. That brings up a tick button that I click to confirm the purchase, I click that and am brought back to ......the home page!
Yes, I am unceremoniously dumped back to the home page with no warning or error message whatsoever. I repeated the entire process a few more times but still had the same end result. That's enough fun for today.
Other minus points from the press release is that the songs are in DRM-enabled WMA, which means you can't transfer them to an iPod. They are also limited to 128kbps or 192 kbps bit rate.
Contrast that to Amazon's MP3 store that offers DRM-free MP3s that you can play on anything and copy to anywhere, and come in 256kbps. Oh and they are cheaper as well, 99 US Cents a song and around 9.99 US dollars an album.
So my verdict is this store is going to fail big time. But this is beta, so maybe they might work out some of the chinks in the near future, but it seems to me like this was rushed out to launch way before it was ready.