August 18, 2005, 12:00 AM

Ringtone downloads surging among U.S. cell phone owners, study says

23% of U.S. cell phone owners have downloaded ringtones to their phones, up from 5% a year ago, as consumers show a greater willingness to pay for ringtones than PC-based songtrack downloads, researchers Ipsos Insight reports.

 

23% of U.S. cell phone owners have downloaded ringtones to their phones, up from 5% a year ago, as consumers show a greater willingness to pay for ringtones than PC-based songtrack downloads, Ipsos Insight reports.

“This is an intriguing phenomenon, as ringtones often cost twice as much or more than a high-quality, PC-based full digital music track,” said Matt Kleinschmit, vice president of Ipsos Insight and author of a the recent ringtones study, “TEMPO: Keeping Pace with Digital Music Behavior.”

The study was based on an April survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers aged 12 and up. Ringtone downloads can cost about $1.99 per download, compared to 99 cents for most individual song downloads to a computer.

The study notes that, of the 23% of cell phone owners who have downloaded ringtones, 78% of them have paid for the download, while only 50% of PC-based downloaders report having paid for their music downloads.

The study also notes that mobile phone owners are beginning to download newly available content to their phones. 6% of mobile phone owners say they have downloaded full songs, 3% have downloaded short video clips and 2% have downloaded music videos to their phones. “This suggests that users may be increasingly seeking mobile entertainment content options beyond just music-related offerings, and points to the potential for broader multi-media-related services that could be offered from a variety of distribution points,” Kleinschmit said.

He added that wireless phone services have an advantage in selling ringtones due to their existing billing relationships with customers. By contrast, he said, “cumbersome registration and payment processes can discourage impulse purchases” in PC-based digital downloads.

 

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