Sales of speakers for mobile phones have increased over the past six months, as music-enabled handsets and download services continue to grow in popularity.
Just over £1m worth of mobile speakers were sold last month, compared with £500,000 at Christmas and just £146,000 in May 2007, according to figures from market research specialist GfK.
Handsets with MP3 players and FM radios now account for over 65% of the market, up from only 44% in April 2007.
According to Rob Wells, senior vice president of digital at Universal Music, the future of digital music is ‘definitely on mobile’.
Wells said: ‘More and more people are downloading tracks and listening to music on their handsets. In the UK, between 15% and 20% of Universal’s digital music business is on mobile. This will increase to around 35% next year and to about 50% the year after.’
Wells attributes the rise in the usage of mobile phones as music-playing devices to the download services launched by Nokia and Vodafone last year, and he sees ‘unlimited’ services as key to driving growth over the next year.
With an increasing range of devices capable of storing more music, consumers are prepared to spend more on speakers to share the music stored on their handsets.
GfK figures show that the average price of speakers increased from £32 in May 2007 to £64 in February this year.
Operators and retailers seized on consumers’ interest in speakers, and bundled them free with handsets, which caused the average price to tumble back down to £38 in April.
Samsung has combined handsets and speakers by incorporating a built-in digital power amplifier by Bang & Olufsen into two of its devices, the Soul and the F400.
Other manufacturers have signalled their intent to capitalise on music take-up, with Motorola pinning its hope on rejuvenating its handset sales with its music-focused device, the ROKR E8, and Sony Ericsson is unveiling more handsets in its Walkman range this week.