Nokia was kind enough to send me some rad bluetooth headphones, and more importantly, a R200 gift voucher for the Nokia Ovi Store (the artist formerly known as The Nokia Music Store). I did a quick interview with Jake Larsen when the store launched a couple of years ago, so I was keen to take a look at how the store had matured. This really is our only local digital music store choice with full device integration. Yeah, you can use a US street address to get an iTunes account, but that's too much of a las.
I gave the voucher to my wife, a perfect middle of the road digital citizen. Thought it would give a more balanced view. She's easily frustrated, won't "hack it" to fix bugs and is easily sold if she can see cool value. I think that's a representative view. Here we go, the intimate interview, for your reading pleasure...
Andy: Hello hon!
Chantal: Hey sweetie!
Andy: So, with your funky R200 gift voucher (you owe me btw!) - how did you go about getting connected to the store?
Chantal: I visited music.nokia.co.za and then you do this login process, with the gift voucher number. You have a choice to download the software (they encourage you to), so I thought ok-cool, I'll try it out. I installed it, and it kept breaking at the last "component". Then I went back to the website to try download MP3's rather, but it wouldn't let me because it keeps wanting to use the Nokia Music Player. The Nokia Music Player doesn't work on my computer. I then uninstalled everything I could find. It didn't work! I then reinstalled everything, it still didn't work. Error 1722. I Googled this and it seems lots of people have this problem and Nokia isn't getting back to any of them. So it doesn't work on my computer. I've given up. Luckily I can still access it on my phone.
Andy: Ouch. You probably had missing registry links, corporate firewalls or some such thing. Why didn't you hack it?
Chantal: *skeefs me* How can it be the firewall if it let's me install 5 out of 6 components? You're making dinner.
Andy: OK, so using the mobile interface. How did you find it?
Chantal: Easy to find stuff. Only problem is the mobile interface doesn't give you the 30 seconds free "listen" to see what the track is. Or at least it didn't work on my Nokia E71. Really easy to download onto the phone.
Andy: Scope of music available, quality of the tracks and other funky stuff?
Chantal: All the Top 20 stuff and some old stuff. Love the fact that I can get singles (you can't in record stores anymore). It sounds fine on my phone!
Andy: How did you find the pricing? Cheap? Or eating into Jack's college fund?
Chantal: I think R60 to R100 an album isn't bad. I don't have to pay download costs because I've got a bundle. It might get expensive, I don't know? On average R6 a song is pretty cool. I'm going to put more money in to get the latest, coolest individual songs. I'm going to make my own Monster Hits compilation.
(Ed's note: back of cigarette box calculation. R6 on average for a song. MTN out of bundle = 65c per MB. Average 6mb per song becauase the quality is quite high = R4 odd. So R10 per song.)
Andy: What if I said, including bandwidth, it would cost you roughly R10 per song?
Chantal: It's ok. Comparable to a music store - but at least here I can pick my songs.
Chantal: PS. I love that free bluetooth headset thing. That's awesome. Say thank you for me.
Andy: Ok. Makes you look a bit silly though, connects round the back of your head, like your alice band is falling off.
Chantal: I feel like I'm from Star Trek.
There we go ladies and gents - a pretty frank review of the Nokia Ovi Store music experience. As always, Nokia is plagued by a couple of software issues, but the service underneath seems to be rock solid and packed with value. It's just the polish. Something Apple does well. So if Nokia can get their slickness back, those 2 billion customers of theirs could become even more profitable.