Consumers globally spent somewhere between $1 and $3.3 Billion (yes, with a Capital B) in 2003. That’s between 3 and 10% of the $32.2 billion global music market.
Two research groups, Juniper Research and the ARC Group have recently published studies on this market. Juniper's study says that the ringtone market peaked in 2003 at $1billion and will be about half that in 2008. While ARC claims that last year's market was $3.3billion and set to double by 2008. Whatever, we’re talking, big, big bucks.
The majority of this market is in Asia (Japan and South Korea) and Europe, while the US has been slow to catch on.
I bring this up because its a real splash of cold water from the usual bitching and whining about digital file sharing as the death of the content industry. This always struck me as a hollow, rear-guard position. Technology changes things, deal.
Although the idea of a downloaded, cutesy ringtone is mildly repulsive to me, I love how its cropped up to add 10% of the global music industry's revenue. Shows how young firms who are out pushing new ideas and not bellyaching have room to take advantage of new technologies and turn a fat buck.