Music delivered to mobile phones via operators networks (mobile music) is on the rise, currently representing around 13% of global recorded music retail value, according to a report just released by Understanding & Solutions. The report forecasts an increase to almost 30% by 2011, amounting to $11 billion (5.3 billion), and helping to offset some of the decline in packaged music revenues.
Alongside online, mobile music is essential to the future of the music industry, says Understanding & Solutions Consultant, David Sidebottom. Japan, closely followed by the USA, has the most efficient mobile music landscape: both countries have a concentrated operator base and a large pool of potential subscribers, providing economies of scale for the music companies.
In the fragmented European market, some operators have become less aggressive, as they cant make money directly from selling full-track downloads, but this will pave the way for off-portal and third party service providers.
Most new handsets now come with built-in music functionality, the report notes, and recent developments from manufacturers and operators have helped improve the user experience when searching for, purchasing and using mobile music. However, interfaces and software need to continue to improve to make the mobile experience comparable with online.
Looking to emerging markets, mobile could become the number one platform for music, where packaged CDs havent gained traction due to piracy and lack of hardware ownership, says Sidebottom. Both China and India are showing large revenue gains, which are being driven by strong mobile subscriber growth and the status associated with music-related personalised mobile products.