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US punters don't want mobile music

Can pay, won't play

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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 music at all.

Just over a fifth of US handsets are able to play back MP3s, according to the report, but US punters complain that operators are charging too much for music downloads as well as being too restrictive with their DRM.

In Europe the situation is likely to be different. 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; not to mention a social hub for the group most associated with buying music.

It's not clear from the report what proportion of those MP3-capable handsets are in the hands of that young demographic who might be interested in the latest singles, rather than the middle-aged management more interested in ripping their extensive collection of 70s prog rock than downloading on the move.

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.

Subscription services would seem to be the obvious way to allay concerns about pricing, and linking them to a device removes any ambiguity about who owns what. It will also mean a future when being broke not only means eating beans, but doing so without a soundtrack. ®

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