How Are You Downloading Music? Sandisk Thinks You'll Be Using Your Phone (SNDK)

Jan.30.06 | About: Western Digital (WDC) provided great coverage from the Midem conference of where the mobile music industry is headed. Key takeaways:

  • Ringtones Still Drive US Mobile Music Market: Universal Music Mobile sees non-ringtone revenue streams at their very beginning, that they represent a small percentage of the market for the company, and that ringtones represent 40% of the digital business for UMG - so for the present, the company, while it derives a large part of its digital revenue from ringtones, hopes to develop a more diverse revenue portfolio.
  • Cellphone Overwhelming Platform of Choice for Music Download in Japan: According to Ken Ohtake [EVP, Sony Music Publishing (Japan)], a staggering 96% of Sony’s full-track downloads are mobile-phone based.
  • It Worked For Madonna: In 29 markets Madonna’s new single went to #1 with 40% less airplay in comparison to other #1 hits -- many of those markets were places where an emphasis was places on mobile marketing -- which shows that marketing and development of music with carriers is crucial to launching product. So it seems that at then end of the day, though ringtones account for the lion’s share of mobile revenue, all relevant parties are seeing positive empirical results of mobile-based and mobile-blended campaigns.
  • In a conference call with analysts, Sandisk CEO Eli Harari took a clear position that the future of mobile music downloads is with the mobile phone (full transcript here): "And again in the long run, we do think that handsets would be the primary comerade for distribution of music. Just by the sheer numbers, we are talking 11 million cards in the fourth quarter compared to, this is very very large number, compared to all iPods 14 million iPods sold in the quarter, you see that we haven’t really touched the surface with handsets."