Mobile accounts for 90%-plus of all downloads.

Mobile downloads are by far the most popular digital distribution medium in Japan, according to quarterly data released Thursday (Nov. 24) by labels body the Recording Industry Assn. of Japan. The RIAJ has been collating quarterly digital-sales data since January this year.

The number of PC-based Internet downloads recorded by the RIAJ's 41 member companies in the July-September quarter totaled 2.3 million, up 125% over the April-June quarter, for a wholesale value of ¥436.7 million ($3.7 million), an increase of 87%. The RIAJ defines this category as comprising singles, albums, mini-albums and "other related content" sold over wired networks, with albums and mini-albums counting as single units regardless of the number of tracks they contain.

In the April-June quarter, in contrast, PC-based downloads declined 6% in volume terms and 25% in value. A likely factor behind the growth recorded in the July-September period is the Aug. 4 launch of the Japanese version of Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store.

However, mobile-based downloads in the same period totaled 72.1 million in volume terms, up 25%, for a retail value of ¥9.1 billion ($76.5 million), an increase of 23%. The RIAJ defines this category as comprising sales over wireless networks of full single tracks, ring tones, master ring tones and other related content, regardless of whether those sales were made on a per-track basis or by subscription.

Mobile downloads during the quarter thus accounted for 96.8% of all downloads on a volume basis and 95.2% in terms of value.

This marks the second time the RIAJ has released quarterly download data, following the first such release on Aug. 22. The association says it will continue to publish download sales statistics each quarter in line with standards set by the IFPI.