Nokia announced today it put down $60 million to purchase Seattle-based digital music distributor Loudeye. The deal surely indicates that Nokia plans an expansion of its direct-to-consumer content moves. To that end, Nokia said of the deal:
"The multi-function mobile device will become the preferred medium for enjoying music and Nokia is leading this trend. With music optimized products like the Nokia N91 and other Nokia devices, Nokia sold more than 15 million music enabled devices in the 2nd quarter, making it the world's largest manufacture of digital music players.
"Music is a key experience for Nokia and Nokia Nseries multimedia computers and we want to be able to offer the best fully integrated mobile music experience to our customers. Loudeye brings a number of key assets to Nokia, including a great team of people, a substantial content catalogue and a robust service platform that will help us to achieve this objective," said Anssi Vanjoki, executive vice president and general manager, Multimedia, Nokia. "People should be able to access all the music they want, anywhere, anytime and at a reasonable cost. With this acquisition, we aim to deliver that vision and a comprehensive music experience to Nokia device owners during 2007."
Loudeye currently operates in 60 countries and has license to distribute some 1.6 million songs, presumably not all Finnish folk music, so they will come locked and loaded with plenty of content to sell. Question is, how will this sit with operators looking to make a buck/yen/euro with their own digital content download services? One interesting issue is that Nokia has been going direct with its N Series devices as well as selling some through operators, so consumer have begun having greater choice of device purchasing and service bundling as well.
It is also probably a counter to moves like Microsoft's telegraphing of Zune's music capabilities (interestingly, Loudeye drives MSN's music stores in some countries). Time will tell, but the mobile music market is getting hotter than a New York streetcorner at the moment.