Mobile Music Explosion in India

Another story about the growth of the global mobile music industry. The Cellular Operators’ Association of India (the mobile telecom lobby there) predicts that mobile music is set to overtake legal conventional music in India in the next few months.

According to Physorg, this growth is not free of growing pains. In a rapidly growing market of 90 million mobile subscribers (one that’s adding about 5 million new mobile phone users every month), the stakes are fairly high, and music companies feel that telcos are taking a disproportionate chunk of the revenues (60%) from music downloads.

I don’t envy the digital music companies. In their struggle to demonstrate a viable business model, digital music providers face not only the telcos, but also the problems of music piracy, and of users who share legitimately purchased music between friends’ phones. However, some (such as spokespersons for the COAI, as quoted in the Physorg article) argue that these activities actually benefit the mobile music industry overall.

I suppose it’s not too surprising that the telcos are saying filesharing is OK. Under the present circumstances, the carriers could benefit handsomely from illegal downloading and filesharing between friends, as they could still collect data revenues, while reducing costs paid out to content providers, and reducing download costs for consumers. Is this what people mean when they say the mobile music industry will be like “Napster with a business plan”?

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