Although US consumers are continuing to acquire music-capable mobile phones, only few take advantage of those capabilities.
According to a new report from Jupiter Research, "Mobile Music: Target Impulse Purchases and Purchasers for Over-The-Air Downloads," only about five percent of consumers report sideloading songs onto their phone (i.e., transferring digital songs from a PC to a phone), and only two percent report downloading songs over the air.
Although some 27.9 million US consumers are expected to have music phones by the end of this year, the music functionality of the phone will remain significantly underutilised.
Carriers potentially face significant hurdles including resistance to initially high price points for over the air (OTA) downloads, prevalence of existing portable devices, and compromises in device functionality to combine phone and music capabilities.
Even the long-anticipated release of Apple's iPhone later this week will probably not serve as the catalyst for mass adoption of music phone capabilities.
Research Director at JupiterResearch, Joe Laszlo, said, "While the iPhone could raise consumer awareness of, and interest in, music phones from other manufacturers and mobile operators, it is more likely to attract a unique market segment, hard for competitors to emulate.
"Apple fans and status seekers will rush out for a first generation iPhone; music fans will probably wait a while."
To drive usage, as opposed to simply ownership, of music phones, carriers, handset makers, and the music industry must do more to make the case that music capabilities integrated into handsets deliver real consumer benefits.
Reaching out to the 20 percent of consumers who buy music impulsively, and integrating features like mobile fan communities and song identifiers will be key to prompting consumers to try, and eventually buy, music on their mobile phones.
President of JupiterResearch, David Schatsky, added, "Despite strong industry interest in music on mobile phones, adoption remains in its earliest stages.
"It isn't the type of activity that can be forced into the marketplace, but it is something that should be nurtured in those who have already embraced it."
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