Nokia surprised a lot of people this morning by announcing Nokia Music+, an upgraded version of their current Nokia Music service available on Lumia Windows Phones. Music+ looks to compete directly with Microsoft's Xbox Music both in terms and features but with a lower price point: €3.99/$3.99 per month.

The service is expected to rollout “in a few weeks” and users can access their music via a web-app which “gives you the ability to play Mixes on your computer, smart TV or other connected screens”. What’s not clear at this point is whether this will be open to other Windows Phones or just Lumias. Also, the language about accessing Mixes suggests that individual tracks and albums may not be available across devices, though that remains to be seen.

The full feature list though is quite impressive.

  • Unlimited skips. Whether you like to skip from track to track, or just want extra control over what you hear. There’s no stopping you with Nokia Music+.
  • Unlimited downloads. The free service allows you to download up to four Mixes (each of which contains hours of music) and play them without an Internet connection. The paid service removes this limit – you can download a massive supply of offline music you can swap as you wish.
  • Higher quality. We were surprised by the high quality of streaming music from Nokia Music, even over a 2.5G connection. Nokia Music+ allows you to download music at eight times the existing quality. Plus, you can set rules to only download high quality when you’re on WiFi, for example.
  • Lyrics. Words to the songs you’re listening to, right on your Nokia Lumia. Either in a scrolling list, Karaoke-style format, or a display you can scroll up and down.

At least when it comes to the lyrics options, Xbox Music does not have an option while the rest of the features are mirrors of what Microsoft is currently doing. Another question arises as to the size of the music catalog, but details are not revealed.

Nokia has been more aggressive about entering the services arena, much like Samsung and HTC for Android. It’s a good source of extra revenue and dare we say Nokia will probably do a much better job of it than those other two companies.

However, like all new services there will be some missing options at first and limitations that may keep some users at distance. But that low price of €3.99/$3.99 per month may persuade quite a few people to go for it over other music subscription services.

As always, the devil is in the details and we look forward to taking Nokia Music+ for a spin when it’s released. And for those without access to Xbox Music, it looks like Nokia just saved the day.

What do you folks think? Sound off in comments.

Source: Conversations; Thanks to everyone who tipped us!