As emerging markets are starting to embrace music on the go, a recent Juniper report forecasts that the number of mobile users who pay a monthly subscription to access music online, either via download or streaming, will reach 178 million by 2015, three times as much as 2010. The forecast also suggested that the market for mobile music videos might grow at a steady pace.
With the increasing number of 3G networks, the report noted that mobile music subscription will gain popularity in emerging markets. India particularly was considered strong market for music given its links to the Bollywood film industry.
Mobile Music Opportunities report author Daniel Ashdown said: "While streaming is the buzz word in developed markets, we should not forget that it is in markets where a combination of a large population, rising mobile subscriber penetration, and developing economies that represent a golden opportunity for mobile music services. Subscription models offer affordable access to large catalogues of music, and a regular income for mobile operators such as China Mobile and Bharti Airtel."
The report noted that the story is however quite different in other areas. The ringtone market, which has seen a decline over the years, will remain largely a phenomenon of the Chinese market. Ashdown noted that mobile phone users fancy web-based services and on-device apps that enable them to create their own ringtones.
Meanwhile a recent TNS survey has suggested that video calling, live video and video downloads also stand out as critical developments in the emerging markets, as the services have gained significantly more interest over the past 12 months.
Over half of consumers (54%) are interested in video calling; despite not yet using the service and half are interested in watching live TV (50%) or in downloading or streaming video (48%).
The report noted that demand for live TV is particularly high in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa, reaching upwards of 70%. James Fergusson, Managing Director, Global Technology Sector, TNS noted that "Emerging Tier 1 markets, such as China, Brazil and UAE already have penetration levels that match mature markets."
Interestingly, the survey found that consumers in emerging markets are more likely to want to upload content (49%), but more than half (55%) do not have the ability to do so.
Emerging market users outpace their western counterparts, leading demand for the latest mobile technologies. Camera features may have reached a saturation point, growing only 1% between 2010 and 2011, but nearly a quarter of global consumers (24%) say the ability to take and share pictures and video will play a major role in their choice of next device.
31% consumers in India indicate that the ability to take and share pictures and video will play a major role in their choice of next device coming a close second to the handset's ability to store music (34%).
Noting that users are not anymore interested in SMS, Fergusson pointed out that "With mobiles increasingly becoming the primary device for internet access and communication, particularly in emerging markets, entertainment and multimedia features are a key requirement for engaging with consumers."
Across developed (44%) and emerging (77%) markets, handset brands are considered as a top purchase priority. As markets mature, key purchase influencers shift to content and application offerings, along with operating system. The report also noted that the number of mobile web users visiting social networking sites grew from 30% to 46% globally, and from 26% to 50% in emerging markets.