Nokia's highly criticized Comes With Music effort is no longer, at least in name. The service itself remains, but Nokia is ditching the Comes With Music brand and instead is folding the service into its broader Ovi entertainment services and calling it Ovi Music Unlimited.
Comes With Music is Nokia's struggling mobile music strategy designed to compete with Apple and iTunes. The idea from the start was that certain multimedia capable Nokia phones would come bundled with a year's worth of free music by adding the price of the music subscription to the sale of the device. Users simply download as much as they want and keep all the music after the subscription ends, or re-up for another year.
However the service struggled mightily with marketing and implementation, and has yet to be launched in the U.S. due to conflicts with mobile operators here unwilling to subsidize a competing music service.
Here's an excerpt of the text from an e-mail sent to existing Comes With Music users (via All About Symbian):
We are excited to tell you that Comes with Music will soon be part of Ovi. Along with the new name and sleek new look that is easier than ever to use, with Ovi Music Unlimited (formerly Comes With Music) you'll still have access to millions of free tracks, plus, easier way to brows, search and download music.
It's hard not to see this as a failure for the much-hyped Nokia music effort. It puts an end to a multi-million dollar marketing and branding campaign behind the original Comes With Music brand. Ditching the name essentially says the reputation of the product is such that Nokia is no longer willing to support it. What's more, the Ovi brand is even more confusing and ill-defined than Comes With Music.
Also, the e-mail hints at changes coming to the service. These could wind up being either a simple aesthetic retooling or a more comprehensive adjustment of the navigation, user experience and even business model.
We've reached out to Nokia for comment and will update with more information as it surfaces.