iTunes at last! But there are the others

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 10, 2012 03:59 hrs

pEvery time Apple launches a new product service or software upgrade consumers can&rsquot help but get hysterical It happened last week too when Apple announced Indian consumers can now buy music films and even rent videos on iTunes store just like their counterparts in the USppIndustry data reveal smartphone users are some of the heaviest consumers of music with 42 per cent claiming to have a collection of between 2000 and 5000 songs So the biggest glitch as we see it is the willingness of consumers to pay for legal and quality contentppApple iTunes is entering a market already crowded with players like Hungama Nokia Music store Flipkart&rsquos digital store called Flyte and many other free content streaming sites in India which at the moment have big libraries and a better understanding of local flavours So it remains to be seen how successful Apple will be in selling content to Indian consumers specially to the hordes of iPod iPad iPhone Macbook and other web-connected device owners who till now relied on not-so-legal sites to download free of cost content on their hard drivesppHere&rsquos our comparison of existing digital content storesppstrongFLYTEstrongbr In February 2012 e-commerce site Flipkart launched its own digital music store called Flyte with a library of over a million tracks from 150000 unique albums The store reportedly crossed 600000 downloads in AugustppWe figured that Flyte offers music in downloadable MP3 format but without any DRM-like restrictions like Hungama in one of the subscription packs which means users can listen to purchased music on any connected computer or mobile device Flyte offers music content at varying bitrates &mdash between 64kbps and 320 kbps &mdash based on the tracks chosen The big advantage is that user can choose songs for as low as Rs 6 a track and Rs 25 an album Here it scores over iTunesppLike its peers Flyte too allows users to listen to a 30-second sample of the song before adding it to the shopping cart Another plus for Flyte users is that they can make the payment using online banking credit or debit cards or Flipkart Wallet pre-paid like model to pay for music purchases Flipkart does not offer Cash on Delivery COD for digital music Also for some reason Flyte allows to download each song a maximum of four times including the initial download after purchaseppWhile browsing the music catalog online we figured that the international music lists could have been curated better For instance in section where English albums and songs are categorised according to era the page kept redirecting us to an empty &lsquoDevotional & Spiritual&rsquo page There&rsquos no reason for us to complain on the sheer variety offered by Flyte which seemed to cover latest as well as classic albums from BollywoodppWhere is lags in comparison to Hungama and iTunes is that it has no video content for usersppstrongITUNESstrongbr The newest kid on the block Apple&rsquos store lends an advantage to Apple device owners All those iPods iPads iPhones Macbooks and iMacs now have a single-click option to rent movies videos and buy songs and albums as long as they have a credit card and are comfortable sharing its details with Apple For now the company offers no other form of payment for content downloadppThe music selection on iTunes looks big enough with many classic and latest titles from international artists At Rs 9 a song for an old Bollywood piece to Rs 15 for the latest number Apple users may not exactly line up to download legal good quality songs yet Arguably India fans are getting it real cheap since in the US the minimum price per song on iTunes is 099ppFilm content we felt has not been curated properly yet For instance both music and films seem to be categorised under misleading labels In &lsquoBrowse by Decade&rsquo section for decade 2010s less than 15 titles were listed or the &lsquoThriller&rsquo section showed just four film titles for purchase and rent That&rsquos kind of limited we feel But the sweet deal is that Apple is offering a standard definition film for rent up to 30 days for as low as Rs 80 and for Rs 250 the user can also buy the title For high definition latest film titles users can rent the same for Rs 120 or buy at Rs 390ppiTunes internationally has some of the most diverse content as part of its offering and we hope the company will be able to bring its international film and music library for Indian audience tooppWe loved the fact that Apple&rsquos iTunes Match a service that replaces bad quality songs with 256 Kbps AACs files from the user&rsquos music library with tracks from iTunes and makes them available in the cloud Also it automatically syncs playlists and purchases between all your devices saves on storage space by streaming music from iCloud directly so long as a reliable data connection is available and is priced at Rs 1200 for a whole yearppA feature we missed on iTunes was TV shows which offer some great content to Apple&rsquos US consumers If only this section &mdash complete with US British shows or even Indian old tele-serials in high quality &mdash is offered at a reasonable price it would definitely speed up iTunes&rsquo adoption among the local digital nativesppWhile iTunes&rsquo content can be also accessed by any web-connected PC the question remains why would non-Apple device owners pay for the limited selection offered by the company as against the many other free eg content from sites that stream content real-time and other paid resources available on the internetppstrongNOKIA MUSIC STOREstrongbr Nokia&rsquos music store has been in market for a couple of years now and has built a solid music catalog of over 45 million songs The biggest advantage the store offers to customers is operator-led billing service for Nokia Music Store for Vodafone India and Idea Cellular subscribers Credit card usage for digital purchases is just about taking off in India and Nokia was quick to realise that by allowing users to pay via their monthly post-paid bill or via pre-paid balance will quickly widen Nokia Music Store&rsquos reach And it did A library that spans across 16 Indian languages Nokia has been able to clock 14 million song downloads a dayppAlso the Finnish major has figured that giving all-you-can-eat subscriptions to users is a better way to do business than pricesong Subscriptions start at about Rs 50 for 7 days and go up to Rs 250 for 90 days Taxes and GPRS or 3G data charges are applicable as per usage and customers&rsquo plan Again users get to keep all the music downloaded even after the subscription has ended Since all tracks are DRM free users can share them across any platform or transfer to devices via Bluetooth USB e-Mail etcppAs far the content is concerned Nokia has done a great job of curating music into relevant song playlists charts etc There seems to be an exhaustive collection of regional Bollywood and latest international titles on the store The store has ample collection of titles from music labels like T-Series Yashraj Music Saregama BIG Music and VenusppFor now Nokia does not have any movie on its storeppstrongHUNGAMAstrongbr Hungama was probably one the few digital media companies that started a digital store Last week the company updated its site that allowed users to stream content in addition to offering the ability to buy Today the store has 25 million pieces of content &mdash music tracks movies music videos and dialogues mobile contentppHungamacom allows to download a single track DRM free at Rs 10 and for Rs 99 users get to download 99 DRM free content pieces Hungama&rsquos unlimited pack Rs 99 gives DRM protected content and these can&rsquot be transferred to another device Hungama movies streaming service allows to stream unlimited HD movies for Rs 249 a month cheaper than Apple and unlimited standard definition movies for Rs 149 a monthppWith the Hungama Music Cloud Service the company offers users to add their music library to the cloud and access it via their connected devices like PCs mobile phones laptops tablets and TVs a feature similar to Apple&rsquos The service is for free unlike Apple that charges Rs 1200 a year and comes with unlimited storage spaceppAs far as library goes Hungama has quite a variety It has digital distribution rights for T-Series YRF Music Universal Music EMI Warner Ananda Audio etc for music and for Bollywood films the platform sources content from Yash Raj Films T-Series Reliance Home Video Balaji Telefilms Cineyug Excel Entertainment Ultra and Shemaroo etc The supply chain covers the length and breadth of local Indian film and music market You cant rent videos like Apple iTunes on Hungama platformp

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