Track downloads to beat ringtones — research

8 Aug 2006

A new analyst report has predicted a shift in the mobile music market away from ringtones to full track downloads over the next five years, with revenues set to reach US$14bn during that time.

According to Juniper Research, by 2011 the proportional market share for ringtones will fall from 81pc to 51pc while complete song tracks downloaded over-the-air (OTA) will grow as a category from 9pc this year to 32pc in five years’ time.

The predicted revenues of US$14bn will comprise ringtones, ringback tones and OTA music. Asia Pacific is forecast to contribute 40pc of the total, with 27pc coming from Europe, North America providing 18pc and the remaining 15pc coming from the rest of the world.

Driving this change are two factors: the advent of new technologies and increasing competition fuelling the drive for product innovation. OTA full-track music is taking off, Juniper claimed, now that 3G networks and phones with music player features become more widely available. In tandem with that, evolving business models will allow consumers to purchase music for their PC and mobile handset in a single transaction — a feature known as dual download.

Bruce Gibson, research director with Juniper Research, said: “Until now ringtones have dominated mobile music but the balance is shifting. Full track music has been the central offering of many 3G service launches around the world and as 3G usage gathers pace, the mobile music market is preparing to enter a new growth phase.”

Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view, Gibson stopped short of predicting the demise of the ringtone. “Ringtones won’t die away — far from it! We believe that continued product innovation within the personalisation product sector will ensure ringtones remain popular through the foreseeable future,” he commented.

By Gordon Smith