Nokia managers would never admit to being influenced by the Apple iPhone, which mobile phone industry insiders regard as clever but technologically unimpressive. "We don't determine strategy based on the competition," insists Anssi Vanjoki, Nokia executive vice-president and general manager for multimedia. "The consumer is our compass."
Yet Nokia (NOK) announced a new initiative Dec. 4 that seems aimed squarely at Apple (AAPL). Beginning next year, higher-end Nokia phones will come with a built-in music service offering unlimited downloads of songs for a year. Nokia has signed up Universal Music (VIV.PA) to provide its catalog, including top contemporary musicians such as Amy Winehouse and Kanye West. And the handset giant is already negotiating with other major music companies, Vanjoki says.