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The mass adoption of broadband will lead to a surge in demand for online music, according to research from media outfit Screen Digest.

At the end of 2001 digital downloads generated only €3m in consumer spending in Europe, but this is forecast to explode to €152m by 2005.

According to Screen Digest, spending on music via online services by European consumers will represent 17 per cent of total music industry revenues. During the same period, traditional retail music sales are expected to grow only 2 per cent.

And the reason for this massive growth? Well, it seems it's all down to technology. Internet and wireless services; new software developments for delivery formats including compression, encryption and watermarking formats; and new hardware will make a major impact on the music industry.

According to Screen Digest, technology will lead to the further development of virtual record labels, online radio, digital downloads, streaming and mega-music destination sites, e-commerce, file-sharing and subscription services - and all of them will be looking to find mass-market adoption.

Games a go-go

Turning its attention to gaming Screen Digest, in association with the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), estimates that spending on emerging video game platforms - such as games on mobile phones and other handheld devices - in Europe will grow from €127m in 2001 to €6.5bn in 2006. That's a massive predicted growth of more than 5,000 per cent.

Online services from traditional console platforms, such as Sony's PlayStation 2, Microsoft's Xbox and Nintendo's GameCube will start slowly. However, Screen Digest believes that these will become particularly successful generating more than €2.5 billion revenue in Europe by 2006.

When it comes to playing games on the next generation of mobile phones Screen Digest reckons 60 million people in Europe will be using them by the end of 2003 with revenues topping €2.2bn by 2006.

As for the Internet PC gaming industry, those behind the study reckon this will suck in some seven million users by 2006 with a market value of €1.3bn.

However, despite strong growth in PC gaming, this sector is expected to be eclipsed by the emerging market for "games on demand".

Initially take-up of downloaded and "streamed" games will be slow, but Screen Digest predicts in Europe there will be 5.5 million users by 2006, with a market value of €930 million. ®

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