China rocks the West in mobile music: survey

3G or no 3G, mobile users in China are far more likely to use their mobiles as MP3 players than mobile users in the West - and they're more likely to use Sony Ericsson phones to listen to music, according to a new survey released Monday by analyst firm M:Metrics.

The M:Metrics' December Benchmark Survey, based on polling in seven Chinese cities, found that close to 35% of mobile users listened to mobile music in the past month.

Similar surveys from the US and western Europe found music apps far less common among mobile users. Of those markets, Spanish mobile users come the closest with 20% saying they listened to music on their cellphone.

Mobile gaming is also popular with Chinese mobile users, with around 10% reporting having downloaded and played a mobile game in the last month. By contrast, Spain and the UK report 13% and 11% of users play mobile games, while the US, Germany, Italy report lower percentages than China.

Meanwhile, M:Metrics found that while Nokia is the most popular handset maker among surveyed users (close to 31%), it's Sony Ericsson users who are driving mobile media usage in China. In fact, Paul Goode, senior VP of business development and senior analyst for M:Metrics, Sony Ericsson's Walkman phones account for 60% of mobile music usage, and are also driving other activities

"Sony Ericsson device owners are 1.7 times more likely to send a photo message, and almost twice as likely to browse mobile internet content compared with the market average," Goode says.  The mobile music stats may come as a surprise to Motorola, whose MotoMusic service has been quite successful and has also been used as a way tie its brand with mobile music consumption.

However, while a little over 32% of Motorola users said they listened to music on their phones, most of the music was sideloaded from PCs rather than downloaded. Indeed, most mobile music in China is sideloaded, chiefly because of the lack of 3G, says Goode.

The firm surveyed 5,163 Chinese mobile subscribers aged 13-54 via telephone in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenyang, Chengdu, Wuhan and Xi'an.

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