Microsoft’s (MSFT) Zune does not seem to be doing much good getting the company a piece of the Apple (AAPL) iPod digital music player market. So, the world’s largest software company is taking a different approach. It will become partners with the world’s largest handset company, Nokia (NOK).
The cellular handset may become the next device that is widely used for the download and playing of music. Over one billion handsets are sold each year. That compares to about 40 million iPods.
Now, Nokia will adopt Microsoft’s digital rights management software to protect video and audio content on its phones. This should make the music industry happy and more likely to want to do business with Nokia. Pirated music costs publishers hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
Microsoft’s DRM product will be built into Nokia’s S60 software which is the most widely used handset software in the world.
According to Reuters, Nokia is expected to launch an online music store to compete directly with Apple iTunes. With sales of almost 400 million handsets a year, the European company may be the only firm with a chance to challenge Jobs & Co.
Douglas A. McIntyre