While the mobile phone may one day replace the standalone MP3 player as the primary device to listen to digital music, analysts are questioning whether it will double as the primary acquisition device as well.

Data from European operators show that mobile games are generating 10 times the revenues of over-the-air music downloads, and analysts predict the gap will be much larger come 2011.

UK operator Orange, for instance, revealed that subscribers downloaded 750,000 games over a three-month period, equaling that of ringtones, full-song downloads and music videos combined.

Jupiter analyst Mark Mulligan in his blog says that since device manufacturers are focusing on phones that emphasize sideloading over wireless downloading, operators may dedicate their efforts to other forms of content.

"If mobile music handsets go the same way as dedicated MP3 players then the majority of what mobile users will do is listen to pre-existing music collections," he says.

But in the spirit of "lies, damn lies and statistics," another analyst report from research group eMarketer is predicting that record labels will see $7.3 billion worldwide from mobile music revenues by 2011, more than seven times the $1 billion estimated in 2006. However the company added that to reach this figure, the industry would have to change some "fundamental assumptions" about how the mobile music value chain works-such as embracing ad-supported mobile music services.

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