Study: Adults Don't Care About Mobile Music - InformationWeek

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Commentary
4/10/2008
01:15 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
Commentary
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Study: Adults Don't Care About Mobile Music

A new survey conducted by Jupiter Research shows that fully two thirds of American adults have absolutely no interest in listening to music on their mobile phones. Some of the biggest roadblocks? Songs cost too much, and it's just too difficult to find them via mobile phone. I agree, in part. Do you?

A new survey conducted by Jupiter Research shows that fully two thirds of American adults have absolutely no interest in listening to music on their mobile phones. Some of the biggest roadblocks? Songs cost too much, and it's just too difficult to find them via mobile phone. I agree, in part. Do you?The study looks at over-the-air download services more than anything else, and concludes that most adults find the process to be too annoying to bother with. I can't argue with that point. I've tested all the major music download services and none of them is all that easy.

Unless you know exactly what you want and perform a targeted search, browsing mobile music libraries is painful at best. You have to wade through menu after menu, screen re-load after screen re-load to see even a handful of songs, artists, or albums displayed at a time. As much as I want this business model to succeed, it's simply not enjoyable.

Only a couple of music stores get it right: the iTunes Music Store (which is available only to the iPhone); the Nokia Music Store (which is only available in select European countries); and the new, upcoming Sprint music store that I saw demonstrated on the Instinct handset last week at CTIA. Groove Mobile completely reworked its software to work well with that device, and the results look promising. Why do these three work? Because discovery is easy, prices are standard, and you get a copy for your phone and your PC.

As for the rest of the mobile music services, here are some glum numbers to contemplate:

  • Only 5% of U.S. mobile subscribers sideload tunes from their computer
  • Only 2% download tracks over the air
  • Only 14% of users are even remotely interested in over-the-air downloads

The top complaints are price, discovery, user interface issues, digital rights management, and device redundancy.

Personally, I listen to music on a wide range of devices, typically whichever form factor is most appropriate to whatever I am doing. That often includes my phone. I've only downloaded one album from the iTunes Music Store to my phone. Not because I don't think the store stinks, but because I am archaic and still actually purchase real CDs.

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