Americans Tune Out Mobile Music

Only 10% of U.S. cell phone users listen to music on their cell phones, according to Forrester Research.
U.S. cell phone users are still not very interested in using their phones as their primary music players, according to a study from Forrester Research.

The report, "The Future of Music On Cell Phones," said 10% of adult Americans listen to music on their phones once a month. By comparison, 27% of British adults and 70% of Chinese subscribers used their mobile handsets to play tunes.

Part of this difference is that mobile users outside of the United States are less likely to have a dedicated music player, are savvier with the advanced capabilities of their devices, and have a wider variety of music options, the report said. For example, Nokia's Comes With Music service offers customers free, unlimited access to music on their handsets for up to a year. The service is currently available in multiple markets, and Nokia is trying to bring it to the United States.

The report also said consumers found the U.S. carriers' music plans overpriced and too restrictive. Forester expects the market to grow over the next few years, but not at a very explosive rate because 60% of U.S. phone owners said they have no interest in buying music on their handsets. The report estimates the market for buying music on a phone will hit $263 million in the United States by 2013.

Forrester said carriers and handset makers could be to blame for the lack of interest in mobile music, as carrier-branded stores often had limited selection and music-capable phones were difficult to use. That is changing a bit though, as Apple's iPhone has caused other handset makers to boost the multimedia capabilities of their handsets, and mobile streaming services like Pandora and Slacker Radio are gaining popularity.

Most companies are just starting the hard work of mobilizing workforces by bringing the software they use to smartphones. InformationWeek analyzed this issue in an independent report, and it can be downloaded here (registration required).

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