Mobile audio now constitutes 12 percent of all mobile data consumed in North America, according to a ByteMobile Mobile Analytics Report released in June by Citrix. The report calls the new data usage from audio a “significant portion of traffic” on mobile devices, and is third in total mobile consumption behind video and Web use. Audio’s percentage is expected to continue to grow significantly in the future.
Mobile audio represents both audio file downloads and streaming music on mobile devices, though streaming represents the vast majority of data usage. The top apps used to stream music to mobile devices include Pandora, Spotify, iheartradio, last.fm and Slacker Radio.
The Giants Have Taken Notice
This growing trend of audio consumption on mobile devices has not been lost on the largest names in the tech field, as both Apple and Google have announced streaming music products in recent months.
Apple’s iTunes Radio is specifically cited as an indicator that audio’s portion of mobile data share will continue to rise. Though long-rumored, Apple didn’t officially announce the service until June. The service won’t officially be available until fall but will be similar in many ways to Pandora radio, which currently has more than 700 million users.
iTunes Radio will be free and ad-supported, with an ad-free version available to customers who already pay for iTunes Match. In addition to carrying the influential Apple name, the service has the advantage of being tied to millions of existing iTunes accounts that have credit cards on file to make purchasing music a seamless process.
Google Play Music All Access is forthcoming as an on-demand streaming service more akin to Spotify than Pandora. However, unlike iTunes Radio (or Spotify), Google’s streaming service will not offer a free, ad-supported version and will instead charge a $9.99 subscription rate.
The Mobile Analytics Report also points out that while mobile audio data usage represents 12 percent of data in North America, this is only 4 percent total in the rest of the world. This likely comes with the territory of the audio industry, which has different copyright rules from country to country, meaning that streaming services aren’t available in all areas.
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