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Mobile Music To Top $32 Billion By 2010

Global spending on mobile music from ring tones to full-track downloads is expected to reach $32.2 billion by 2010, with consumers in the Asia-Pacific region and Japan leading the market, a researcher said Tuesday.

Spending on music for handsets is forecast to increase by nearly two and a half times this year's predicted $13.7 billion, Gartner said in its global outlook for the mobile music market. The growth will occur despite competition from digital music players, and a host of challenges faced by telecommunications carriers in delivering these services.

Ring tones today are the second most popular mobile data service, with text messaging No. 1 in terms of use and revenue, Gartner said. Driving the use of mobile music is personalization and entertainment. Ring tones and ring-back tones, for example, are part of the trend to turn mobile phones into a form of self-expression. Ring-back tones are a piece of music or audio clip that mobile phone users select for callers to hear instead of the traditional ringing signal when they dial a mobile number.

Carriers own the ring-tone business, but they are not in such a strong position on the entertainment side of mobile music, such as streaming and full-track downloads, Gartner analyst Stephanie Pittet said. Wireless companies stand to lose market share in the latter to makers of digital music players, record companies and others.

Examples of digital player manufacturers entering the market include Apple and its recently released iPhone. In addition, Apple iTunes and Microsoft Zune are examples of online digital music shops that would compete with portals from mobile carriers.

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