The 2006 Digital Music Survey, carried out by Entertainment Media Research for the lawyers Olswang, is loaded with interesting statistics about the habits and attitudes of 3,000 of Britain’s music listeners.

The survey ranges widely, and Olswang’s interest is of course in illegal downloads, but there are some keynotes of relevance to the mobile phone business.

• Some 46% of respondents said they would prefer a mobile phone that could play music files, with 21% saying they would prefer a music player that integrated a mobile phone.
So what’s the difference between them? Clearly this is a matter of familiarity – there aren’t many MP3 players with a phone attached, while most phones now have music capabilities – and perhaps of brand perception

• A third of British consumers would prefer to keep their mobile phone and digital music player separate.
That seems an important statistic – it looks as though the iPod and its competitors aren’t going to be finished off by converged after all.

• The market for mobile downloading could be stalling.
The industry has done well to convert interest into early adoption, with users homing in on the idea of immediacy – instant access to the music, the ability to download anywhere at any time. But over the last year, the proportion who claim to be interested in mobile downloading has risen only four points to just 25% of respondents. Only 11% actually purchase and download to mobile. And just 4% of music consumers who don’t currently download say they are “very likely” to start.

• Downloading to a mobile phone is not especially appealing yet,
perhaps because people aren’t really familiar with the concept. Just 11% said they found the idea very appealing, 32% called it very unappealing. A “buy now” button on a digital radio was a more attractive option; 19% called that very appealing. Looks like the industry needs to do more work to promote the idea; the problem is more fundamental than a lack of consumer knowledge – it’s simply a lack of interest (44% of those not downloading to mobile said the reason was “I’m not interested”).

• The market for digital downloads might be restricted by the continuing appeal of the CD. While digital downloaders say they are indeed likely to buy fewer CDs in the future, the
great majority of consumers (72%) perceive CDs to be worth more
than downloads.

• A continued preference for CDs is the principal barrier to expanding the market for legal downloading, but the next most important factor is the perception that downloads are too expensive – 30% of those who aren’t downloading cited price as the reason.
The report is available to download at www.entertainmentmediaresearch.com

Interesting coincidence: in a recent In-Stat mobile multimedia consumer survey, 44% of respondents who own music-playing handsets had not added any music files to their phones.
Annual mobile music revenues will top $14bn worldwide by 2011, says Juniper Research. The analysts also predict a significant shift in market emphasis from ringtones to over the air (OTA) full track music in the next five years “with the advent of new technologies and increasing competition fuelling the drive for product innovation”. This change is courtesy of OTA full track music taking off, as 3G networks and ‘music’ handsets become more globally accessible and business models evolve, allowing consumers to purchase both PC and mobile music in a single transaction. 
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