JupiterResearch has found in a recent survey that mobile phones will not replace portable media players in the immediate future, despite industry initiatives from Apple and Napster. The report “Music Mobile Phones - Will They Replace Portable Media Players?” finds that mobile phones are hampered by a trade-off between size, battery life and the power demands of numerous new multimedia services.

Fifty percent of European consumers surveyed by JupiterResearch stated that size was the most important factor when choosing their next mobile phone, making it the most widely cited factor. The constrained battery life of such small handsets must support of all the multimedia services that operators launch: video clip playback, video telephony, megapixel cameras, games, truetones, polyphonic ringtones, wap or i-mode browsing, e-mail, as well as paid music download services and playback. Given this competition, music services that mimic Internet download services could cannibalise higher margin mobile services that are less demanding on the handset battery.

The report highlights the risks for mobile operators that pursue a mobile music strategy and discusses the key characteristics such a strategy should possess. Other current barriers that operators must overcome include the licensing of competitively sized music catalogues, positioning of true music ringtones and limited phone storage capacity.

“Mobile phone music services must not be positioned to compete with the PC music experience as the handsets are not yet ready,” said Thomas Husson, European Mobile Analyst at JupiterResearch. “Mobile music services should be new and different, and enable operators to differentiate their brands and support third generation network launches,” added Husson.