We've been browbeating Nokia for using DRM to "protect" its Comes with Music offering ever since the service launched back in December of 2007 -- a time when the industry was just beginning to shed its DRM shackles. Now get this, the idle talk is over, Nokia just launched its all-you-can-eat (for 12, 18, or 24 months, typically) Comes with Music service in China without any DRM at all. India is on deck as Nokia looks to hook more emerging markets on the (kind of) free music drug. That means you no longer have to strip the DRM illegally to play your downloaded content on devices other than your main PC and Nokia Comes with Music handset. And yes, you can keep the tracks for life after your CWM subscription expires.
At launch, Chinese consumers will have a choice of eight (ok, seven really) CWM handsets (X6 32GB and X6 16GB, 5230, 5330, 5800w, 6700s, E52 and E72i) with prices starting at a local equivalent of €140 (the CWM service fee is baked in to the cost, mind you) excluding taxes and subsidies. Suspiciously, Nokia's not making the usual boast about the millions of tracks available in the CWM catalog. It is, however, reassuringly supported by all the Big 4 music labels in addition to some Chinese indies, as you'd expect. Sorry, no word on when they'll strip the DRM from its European CWM stores and we're still not clear when CWM will finally see a US launch. Hopefully soon as a service like this could go over very, very well Stateside -- a market that Nokia is desperate to crack. Get on to the other side of the break for the full press release.
Update: We met with Jyrki Rosenberg, Director of Music at Nokia, who shed a bit more light on the offering. Unfortunately, while DRM-free music aligns with Nokia's global vision, he had nothing to announce for the US or Europe today. And as you might expect, the onus to go DRM-free in China was in part driven by rampant, local piracy concerns -- recovery of any revenue was better than nothing at all in the eyes of the Big Four. Jyrki also told us that Chinese CWM subscriptions will be 1 year in length but the terms of renewal are still being hammered out. We also know that the music catalog numbers in the "hundreds of thousands" at launch (comparable to competing services in the region, according to Jyrki) and is growing every day. Privacy advocates will be happy to hear that the 256kbps MP3 files are "clean" -- in other words, no user data is embedded in the files unlike the practices of Apple and Walmart, among others.