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back to article US punters don't want mobile music

Punters in the US aren't interested in buying music on their phones, regardless of the price, says a new study from Jupiter Research. In fact, only 14 per cent of those polled were interested in buying proper music via their mobile. Another 28 per cent are happy to purchase ringtones, but the remainder have no interest in mobile …

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Anonymous Coward

Hey Muso/phone Executives !

who thought this gem up ?

If you don't notice an elephant running towards you then you deserved to get trampled.

MP3 to mobile download ? DOH!

Big business wasting your money !

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Heart

70's Prog Rock

You wrote that as if there is something wrong with the satement! my iPod is just about full of Jethro Tull, Pink FLoyd, Camel, Caravan, Yes and Hawkwind!

Keep on Proggin'!

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That's cos the whole system in the US

is years behind the systems in the rest of the world because they focus too much on charging people what ever the hell they want and not letting market forces drive prices down. Hell they've only had GSM since 2002. I bet if you asked people 10 years ago in the UK if they would download music onto their phones (only a third of which are capable remember) then you'd have had the same sort of response. While in Ney York last summer I tried to borrow a charger for my Nokia and couldn't as they all had branded network phones that were barely capable of sending texts. People are still charged way too much over there for their mobiles. You go to schools here and well over 50% of kids have a phone, over there you only have the odd one or two.

Years behind!

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Anonymous Coward

Quel surprise!

And they needed a survey to tell them this?!

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It might work better if...

I think US cellular customers would be more inclined to buy music from their phones if the DRM was relaxed, and if there were easier ways to transfer your purchases to your PC. How many mainstream mobile customers either have a cable to connect to their PC, a micro-SD reader for their PC (if their phone uses a microSD card), or are willing to suffer the miserable transfer rate of Bluetooth? (if they can get it working at all to transfer files) In fact, how many people bought phones with integrated media players because they "thought it was cool", only never to use it or use it only seldom because of the perceived ordeal transferring files, so-so sound quality compared to a dedicated .mp3 player, or other hassles like having to use a fragile headphone adapter to use decent quality headphones? And of course miserable battery life when using the player.

So to make a long story short, if the whole process was a little more seamless (iPod-ish?), it might stand a chance.

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Silver badge

It would work better if....

they just got over it all and sold me a plain phone.

I'm not going to put music on my phone - I've got an MP3 player that cost a lot more than my phone and will probably last 10x as long.

I'm not going to take pictures with my phone - I've got a great digital camera for that.

I'm not going to put video on my phone - I've got a DVD player and a nice big projector at home for that.

Phone companies are some of the worst "me too" firms in the world. They suck and have forgotten their mission...phones.

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Paris Hilton

How's this for an idea

Sell me DRM - free music at the same price as non-cellphone stores ($0.99) and then e-mail me a copy to my registered e-mail address. Simple.

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Anonymous Coward

@Andy Hards

only a small percentage of kids with phones?

Great idea.

We should introduce a licensing scheme for people (including adults) to own these things, with penalties/revokation for things like talking loudly in a public space; having really, really irritating ringtones, and most importantly speaking correct English or at least a proper dialect rather than yoof gansta speech.

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depends....

on what they mean by downloading to the phone.

I've used my phone as a MP3 player for over 5 years!

As for downloading direct on the phone, over the mobile network; NO WAY, until Orange come out with a decent (priced) data bundle that is.

But I do download direct on the phone via WiFi :-)

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Stop

I disagree with Mr Grundy

In our household, we have a SE-K850 Cybershot phone - which is also a media player and a compact W880 'Walkman'.

Both are super mp3 players and we can cram a lot of albums into 4G sticks - yes I know that 8G is now available.

Whilst travelling on the train, I also like to browse the wap/web using Opera mini 4 for Facebook etc and i also catch up on simple e-mails. About the only thing I don't use my handet for is making voice calls.

however, nobody in their right mind would buy music off a 'phone company - that's what the data cable or the memory stick adaptor are for!

Stop this nonsense - fortunately there's a handset for everyone. (except the USA, probably and Japan, 'cos that's a whole other market!)

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Telecos

Untill the mobile service providers sort out the data bundles nobody is going to entertain the idea of downloading mb's of music onto their phone. Thankfully, in the UK 3 and T-Mobile already offer a decent data bundle with a good speed (O2 also have a similar bundle but their network offers significantly lower download speeds)

I just hope they don't get it into their head that it's acceptable to force you to use one service, by doing something like... use any other mp3 store and we are going to bankrupt you with data charges.

Going off track a bit here, but I think you get the point. :)

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Europe at least, the music download business will prove the saviour of the industry.

Will it excellent Im sure the take up will be as "overwelming" as Mobile TV riggghhhhttt???

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Anonymous Coward

@Andy Hards

The reason you don't see many cell phones in schools in the States might have something to do with the fact that so many schools ban them:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/05/12/national/main1616330.shtml

My personal opinion on the matter of downloading songs to the cell phone is that the interface and quality on a cell phone can't compare with that of a dedicated mp3 player (not to mention the fact that Verizon charges $1.99 per song). It would be a different story if I could use a proper Bluetooth headset and have an intuitive interface, instead of being forced to use a headset with a proprietary connector (or carrying around a $25 adapter) and having an archaic interface that doesn't know what a playlist is.

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Anonymous Coward

Walled Gardens

The big problem with mobile music downloads (and many other mobile features) here in the U.S. is the walled garden effect of the carriers. I have my mobile with Verizon, who is probably the worst in terms of this. You can only get music/ringtones/applications/web access/SMS/etc. from them, and at the inflated prices that only a monopoly can charge.

With the high prices and DRM that prevents me from porting it, why would I want to buy music on my phone when I get a better deal on iTunes/Amazon/others? The mobile companies hope the answer is that because it's the only way to get music onto the phone - it's locked down otherwise. That's why it's not working for them - most people have access to other venues. That's also a reason for the success of the iPhone - iTunes is available with a purchasing model that many people are ready to accept for their digital music.

Yes, I know they are not a true monopoly, and I could always change carriers, but Verizon does offer the coverage and calling plans that best suit my calling needs. Also, since it does not appear likely that if I had purchased any music/ringtones/etc., that they would port to another phone/carrier, I'd be throwing any investment in those media away by changing. It's easier to just not get involved and not get invested, play my music on my iPod, and use my mobile for calling. Eventually things will catch up, or maybe they won't. Whatever. They just won't get any extra dollars out of me until it's a reasonable value.

The flip side of the coin is that for my monthly sub in the U.S. I get a ton of free and included minutes (nights, weekends, and calls to other Verizon mobiles are all free), included long distance charges, and no concern about termination fees, so it is a decent value for calling. There is strong competiton on calling plans to sign up buyers, but then they try to rake you over the coals for the extras once they have you on a two year contract. Simply avoiding the extras keeps me from getting hurt at the end of the billing cycle.

Some phones are working their way onto the market now that allow you to put your own MP3's onto them, so perhaps this will start opening things up. Love or hate the iPhone, it will spur competition. Or maybe the carriers won't sell these models, or lock them down in some way. Music on mobiles is still an inferior device/service/pricing model to what's available elsewhere, and they're surprised it's not taking off? Another example of old-school thinking.

And for the guy who said that U.S. young 'uns don't all have mobiles, I'd like to know where he was looking. For example, the local high school here took the payphones out of the lobby because all the kids have mobile phones, even though having the phones in school is supposedly not allowed. But now the one or two kids that don't have them can't even call home for a ride after band practice or whatever - they need to borrow one from a friend.

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@Andy Hards

Not many phones in schools?

I seem to remember that just about everyone in my highschool had one, and that was half a decade ago. Hell I've seen plenty of pre-teens with their own cell phones, and they aren't the barely-sending-text message variety, they're the mp3-playing, picture-taking, shiny, expensive types of phones that all of their friends have.

In my university, everyone that I know has a cell phone. I doubt that most of them will ever even own a landline phone, since they're more or less useless these days.

I know our networks are crap, but the people that live here are plenty happy to pay for whatever new razor / iphone / blackberry is out this month. And they're happy to pay for service for their 11 year old children too.

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Mobile phones are seen as belonging to the operator?

>>US mobile phones are often seen as belonging to the network operator, but where GSM predominates the handset stays with the user, and is more likely to be considered personal property

Um, no.

The vast majority of US mobile phone users understand that they own their mobile phones. They may not realize they can change out the SIM card (if they are on GSM), but they know the phone is their property.

The reluctance to pay for music on phones is probably more driven by the fact that almost everyone in the US who cares about mobile music already has an iPod. A music phone is a solution to a problem they don't have.

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Unhappy

@ Andy Hards

yah we're behind, but it's a good thing we have only this lame "2.5G" because.....well....*sniffle*

I'm sure there's a good reason...it's probably because then we'd want some of those awesome DoCoMo Japanese phones, and that's bad for Nokia and Ericssen..

or something... *wah!* :P

P.S. more hatred to Stinkular for crippling the E62, and some for Nokia for not growing a pair and letting us get the factory image for it anymore!

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Silver badge

@Grundy

Your point is well made for us greybeards. However it does not work for the youth.

Rewind tape to the 1960s when Sony brought out transistor radios. Crappy sound. Everyone said they'd flop because they're just nowhere near valve (US:toooooob) sound. But trannies were very popular amongst the youth who liked having a portable radio (they were listening to 60's pop and stoned, so quality did not matter).

The youth of today are more likely to want to embrace converged technology that gives instant gratification: sending messages, pictures and sound to eachother. The kids of today don't want to wait 20 minutes until they get home to get the latest music that their friend played them. No they want to download and listen to it **now**.

That was one of the appeals of the Zune's squirt music sharing model, but the Zune burned because it was just too uncool.

For this market, quality has to be "just good enough". Ease of use, and particularly speed, are the most important factors.

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Only $0.99 to buy a song...

...and only $129.95 to download it???

That's been the Canadian business model for mobile phone data rates.

It's how you can actually run up an $80,000 monthly mobile phone bill...and why there's not much point in Apple offering iPhones in the Great White North.

-G

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@StopthePropaganda

I ditched my Fido E62 (used on Rogers) for an E61. _I_ paid for the phone, so now I own it. And the E61 has Wi-fi which means I'm not dependant on _anyone's_ cell network.

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Paris Hilton

Is it me?

<quote>

The same research company also reports that, in Europe at least, the music download business will prove the saviour of the industry. It predicts the difference between mobile and desktop downloading will blur beyond distinction.

</quote>

I predict they are absolutely and completely wrong. Time will tell. The only people interested in downloading music to their mobiles are teenagers.

And they don't pay their phone bills. Their parents do.

So, you can buy an MP3 for 99p or £1.99, and then pay £1.50 A MEGABYTE to download it... Yeah, that'll work. Not.

Paris. Because even she can spot a crap idea. I think.

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That's cos the whole system in the US

what a load of mis-information. i don't know how long you were in NY, or how many schools you visited, but the real number of school children who don't have mobiles is closer to 1-2%, rather than those that do have them. most schools in NY as well as elsewhere discourage the use of mobiles within the school.

you are correct in your observation that texting isn't a big thing in the states, not sure why, it just never took off.

also true that the pricing model could use some changes (paying for incoming as well as outgoing calls). actually, a quick perusal of any of the web sites of the various cellular carriers will show the large number of models available.

oddly enough many people in the states use telephones to make telephone calls and aren't interested in them for any other use. my experience in traveling and living/working throughtout the world is that kids in the states aren't as obsessed with music (if that's what it is) as kids are elsewhere.

not sure why you had trouble borrowing a changer for your Nokia, it's one of the most popular mobiles around, and just because a phone is a "branded" model, with the carriers name on it doesn't mean it doesn't work on any other network, assuming the proper sim and account - with the exception of the iPhone and the "pay as you go" phones, locked phones disappeared several years ago.

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Why?

I don't quite understand the logic behind mobile music. now i like the idea of having a phone that can play MP3's, pretty much all of the phones i've had could play MP3's. yet for some reason i've never really used one for playing MP3's, you knwo why? generally the music players have a crap interface and i don't happen to own a headset that uses a crappy proprietry connector and sounds good, i refuse to carry around an adapter just to listen to music. not to mention that the majority of phones are huge, so if i want to go to the gym, i can't exactly strap it to me. the whole digital music bollocks is hopefully going to fade out. I still want a CD, what i would recommend to the record companies is offer a trial of a song. I hate buying a CD and knowing that the majority of songs are goign to be crap, so i download them first, if i like it, i buy it. I will rip the songs to whatever quality I choose and that's how it should be. The more i listen to music and the better my audio equipment gets, the more i realise the difference compression makes, and i'll be honest, i wish i could go back. being able to hear the difference to clearly makes you miss CD's.

Anyway random rant over. digital media to me seems like a daft idea, and making it mobile seems even worse. Now if you could pay a subscription and be allowed to stream the tracks you want.. that would be a great idea, aslong as you're not charged for the data

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D W
Coat

Why buy twice?

The US consumers don't buy these songs for a bunch of reasons.

1. it costs me $2.99 to buy a song from the phone co., when it's 99c on iTunes, and I already have nearly 12,000 songs in my collection already.

2. the phone T-Mobile (US) sold me, a Motorola, has a media player built in. But has no standard headphone socket, and was sold with only a 128Mb microSD card. Playing music through the built in speaker isn't exactly what I'd call "hi-fi" quality.

3. Why would I want to burn through my battery listening to music when my phone is much more important.

Bottom line, the iPhone is the only example of a decent player that's worth buying stateside, and I don't want one since I don't wish to be locked into using AT&T's notorious customer service ever again.

No the phone co's don't own the phone, but it's subsidized until you finish your contract so you still owe them for ending a contract early. And since Sprint/Nextel and Verizon phones are locked into their proprietary formats (non-GSM), what use would it be to own the phone?

No we're just not suckers for throwing money away for a 3 minute fix. Doesn't help that the phone companies have been taking consumers to the cleaners forever either.

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The US Point-Of-View

Most of us that have mobile phones that can play back MP3s instead want to copy them from our already-extensive collections on our PCs (as opposed to downloading them a second time); at least that's how this US mobile phone user sees it. I already *have* the MP3, I'd rather not have to download it again, thank you very much. My biggest complain regarding MP3-capable mobile phones(whether GSM or CDMA or variants thereof) is that moving MP3s between PC and phone (especially from the PC to the phone) is difficult, if not impossible - and that the *phone*, not the PC, is often the culprit (lack of connectivity, even when both PC and phone support Bluetooth, due to the overly-restrictive Bluetooth profiles on mobile phones, is the biggest culprit).

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