32.1 Million MP3 Players Sold In The UK Last Year. Huh?

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By Jemima Kiss: Keen to push its new MP3 kitemark, the Entertainment Retailers Association released figures today trumpeting the format in grand terms: “Never in the history of the music business have we seen a format take off like this before. There is now no doubt that MP3 is the fastest-growing music format of all time, faster than vinyl, cassette or CD,” said chairman Russel Coultart.

Some clever presentation of the facts has allowed them to announce that 32.1m MP3 players were sold last year, according to market research by GfK. But actually 75% of those were MP3-enabled mobile phones, so that figure is a little disingenuous; the fact that a phone has the ability to play MP3s does not mean it will be used as an MP3 player or that MP3 capability was a factor for someone buying one. Bundling them together with standard MP3 players is a little misleading.

On the other hand, 90% of phones sold in the past year could play MP3 files. Sales of CD players dropped to 8m, indicating that ‘pure’ MP3 players like iPods now sell more units in the UK at around 8,025,000 units.

This article originally appeared in © Guardian News & Media Ltd..

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I agree that it's slightly misleading to present the figures that way, but it's still important that mobile phone makers have gone with the MP3 format rather than an alternative (or no music playing ability at all). A format needs to be endorsed by manufacturers, publishers and listeners to be successful – this is evidence that it's been endorsed by manufacturers. Whether anyone's listening is another matter, and therefore whether you can really call it a "sale of an MP3 player" is questionable.

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