Another reason why Apple (AAPL) might end up embracing some kind of all-you-can-eat music offering for the iPod and/or iPhone: Its competitors are teeing them up. EMI says (granted, via the head of its Finnish unit) that it’s signing on to Nokia’s “Comes With Music” plan, where the handset maker plans on bundling a music subscription with its phones.
Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music label, has already signed on with Nokia (NOK), and is pushing its own subscription idea — “Total Music” — with other device makers and with ISPs, cable guys, etc.
We think Apple has a much better shot than anyone else than pulling this off, chiefly because it has already established itself as the dominant digital music player — and created high switching costs for anyone who wants to move to a new service. But whether or not Apple does sign on to a subscription service, the labels won’t be content to let it have the business to itself. That’s one of the reasons they got into trouble in the first place.