According to a study by market researcher TNS, almost 20% of mobile phone users polled in a 15-country study now listen to music on their cell phones, compared with 15% listening on home stereos and 10% on dedicated digital music players like an iPod. The US trailed others in adopting music phone technology, with a mere 4% listening to music on their phones. More daunting for proponents of music phones in the US is that a separate study suggested only 10% of US mobile users are highly likely to purchase a music phone. In Hong Kong, 23% of mobile users listen to music on their phones, while 19% do so in the UK.
South Korea was #1 in the study with 26% listening to music on cell phones and a whopping 60% choosing mobile music as one of the five applications they would like to start using, or use more of in the future. “This puts mobile music in top place as the application with highest potential. This figure is highest amongst mobile users in South Korea (60 percent) and Sweden (46 percent). Once again, the U.S. ranked last in the study, with only 19 percent of respondents stating that they want to start listening to music on their cell phones.”
The difference might be due partly to a bit more of a Luddite culture in the US (Rebecca MacKinnon has recently blogged about how the cell phones in China are higher tech and more multimedia focused than those in the US), and the fact that digital music phones have (amazingly) only been available in the US for a few months. But I think this might also suggest a difference in US and Asian consumption habits. One thing that has made iPods popular in the US is that people can use them to manage and transport their entire music collection; they can be mixed and matched with all kinds of equipment–home stereo and car stereo–in ways that it seems cell phones are unlikely to be able to, at least for some time. The US’s car culture, if nothing else, is reason to imagine that iPods will continue to dominate the digital music scene here, while that obviously would be much less of a factor in Asia, where most people do not commute by car.