The music industry may have to face another battle against free music.

Though the industry is looking to mobile as the bright spot for future growth, new signs point to limited interest of paid-for mobile music services. Instead, it seems, free music has a brighter future over the short term.

Nokia shared some information on Comes With Music with Music Ally, which had reported an estimate of 23,000 Comes With Music users in the U.K. According to Nokia, Comes With Music users average 200-300 downloads in the first few weeks, download 80% via PC and 20% over-the-air, download 35% of their songs from local artists, download 20 times as much back catalog as Nokia Music Store customers, and download tracks from seven genres (compared to three genres for the average Nokia Music Store customers).

Regardless of how Comes With Music users are engaging the service, there appears to be few of them actually subscribing to the service.

To date, the most successful mobile music plays, in terms of installation base, have been the ones that offer music for free, such as popular iPhone apps by Pandora and Last.fm. These apps have far fewer features than Comes With Music and mobile versions of Rhapsody and Napster - but they're free and they have all the momentum. The Pandora iPhone app, released in June 2008, was downloaded four million times through March 30, according to Digital Music News, while AOL Radio's iPhone app, released in September 2008, had been downloaded 3.6 million times. Pandora was the top music app (and #18 overall) at the iTunes App Store today (April 23). iHeartRadio was third, AOL Radio was fourth, Public Radio Tuner was sixth and Yahoo's Y! Music was eighth.

Some future mobile music apps, such as one discussed by Lala, will stream the digital music collection that users' have uploaded to the service's servers. A Lala app, however, would most likely follow the model of the online version and encourage purchases. Instead of using an advertising-based revenue model, Lala makes revenue through the sale of MP3s, CDs and Web streams (unlimited streams for ten cents per song) and encourages sampling and peer recommendations.

Comes With Music is available in five markets: the U.K., Australia, Singapore, Italy and Sweden. In its Q1 2009 earnings release (.pdf), Nokia said it had shipped a total of three million Nokia 5800 XpressMusic handsets since its launch in November 2008. The 5800 XpressMusic is the only Comes With Music-enabled phone Nokia offers thus far. Two new XpressMusic phones -- the 5730 and the 5330 -- will be compatible with Comes With Music in selected markets.