March 29, 2011, 3:36 PM

Digital music and books bought via mobile are catching up to their physical counterparts

The gap between what consumers spend on the two is closing.

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The amount spent on digital music and e-books purchased from mobile phones is now close to the monthly spend on equivalent physical goods—CDs and printed volumes, according to a survey by mobile payments technology firm Bango Inc. of 606 U.S. consumers with web-enabled mobile phones.

Respondents were asked how much they spend in a typical month in various entertainment product categories on physical merchandise and on digital downloads performed via mobile device. Music and e-book downloads are the top entertainment categories for mobile content spend. Men’s and women’s spending habits are similar for both music and e-book downloads, the survey finds.

Consumers who spend money on music downloads spend on average $13.31 monthly, compared with $17.94 on CDs. Men spend on average $13.90 a month on music downloads while women spend slightly less, $12.50.

In a typical month, consumers who purchase e-books on their mobile phones spend an average of $15.34, compared with $20.23 on paperbacks. Spending habits for men and women are very similar. Women spend on average $15.80 a month on e-books while men spend $14.80.

“The spending habits of US consumers are changing as a result of the adoption of Internet-enabled cell phones and smartphones,” says Anil Malhotra, senior vice president of marketing and alliances at Bango. “Consumers who have a passion for content like music and books are spending comparable amounts for digital and physical products. This is why for brands having an integrated offline and mobile strategy is now becoming more essential. To capitalize on these changing spending patterns, thinking of mobile as a separate marketing channel no longer makes sense.”

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