More than a quarter of mobile subscribers listened to music on their phones in April, according to new data from comScore. 25.8% of US mobile subscribers used their mobile device to listen to music, a number that is up 1.3% from the first quarter stat. Texting is the most popular activity at 74.1%, with app use, browser use, social interactions and gaming being the other popular activities.
The increasing popularity of mobile music listening is having an impact that is interesting to observe. Last week I wrote about Samsung as the latest mobile phone manufacturer to purchase a streaming service, recognizing the opportunity that lies in providing music content. SiriusXM recently announced a major upgrade to its mobile streaming offering – in the future, hanging on to their subscribers will likely require more and more competition with streaming services that are mobile-ready.
Meanwhile broadcasters are pressing for FM chips in phones to be mandated by congress, despite resistance by phone manufacturers. This could be a critical piece of broadcast radio’s future survival as mobile listening continues to grow. But the question remains, will listeners choose to listen to fm services when streaming services are available? Given the higher degree of interactivity offered by most streaming options, this is a big question.
AT&T has launched a new mobile music platform that delivers “song and album downloads, streaming radio, song match, lyric search and an enhanced music player – into a single, cohesive experience for AT&T mobile phones.” AT&T will charge customers $6.99 a month on top of a data plan fee, with song and album purchases charged a la carte.
The service will extend streaming music capabilities to “quick messaging phones”, also sometimes called feature phones, or non-smartphones. It’s currently available on three popular devices – LG Xenon, Samsung Solstice and Samsung Impression. It will soon be available for downloads on other phones and AT&T will begin pre-loading it on new devices this summer.
AT&T has clearly identified streaming music as a popular application for mobile devices, and created this platform to offer customers who are not using smartphones those capabilities. I’m sure they’re hoping those customers will see a good reason to purchase unlimited data plans so they can stream.
Meanwhile, Nielsen recently reported that smartphones will overtake other mobile devices by the end of next year as more and more customers choose to upgrade. The use of Wi-Fi increases from 5% for feature phone owners to 50% for smartphone users because smartphones give users more ways to utilize a broadband connection. Now AT&T has created a platform that enables feature phone customers with some of those capabilities.
Meanwhile, it’s all a good thing for the growing Internet radio audience…