iPod beware: Mobile music surges in Asia

October 17, 2006: 7:01 AM ET

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A headline that bears watching: Mobile music is going gangbusters in Asia;

in perhaps the most mind-boggling example, Instat says the size of the

mobile music market in South Korea is now larger than the traditional

music market.

Stats like this provide perhaps the clearest argument for why Apple Computer has to get into the cell phone market, regardless of the difficulties: Music on phones is clearly gaining significant traction in some regions, and unless Apple makes a play in this space, it could see the strength of its iTunes franchise eroded.

In fact, there's an important detail to illuminate here: It's actually more important for Apple to make advances in mobile iTunes, than it is for them to come out with an iPhone. From a strategic standpoint, Apple needs to come out with software and a service that's so good for mobile downloads that carriers feel obligated to sign up because it drives ARPU (average revenue per user, one of the main standards by which carriers measure themselves).

To do that, it needs a great software/service combo, and it needs a solid deal with a carrier that can serve as an example to others. We'll see when and if Apple gets there, and whether the carriers are eager to play with the Cupertino creatives, whom they seem to view as the enemy.

Here are some more notable mobile headlines to start you off today –

and yes, I try to dig out the stuff that's less than obvious so you

don't have to.

First, it seems that in four years, 9 of 10 humans could have mobile coverage. That begins to make it even clearer that phones, not PCs, will be the enabling technology for much of the developing world.

Indian telcos working on universal IM for phones,

in another case of "I wish we had that here" – India's mobile moves

continue to be interesting to track. In another notable nugget from

Instat research, 7 of every 10 phones that shipped last year was a camera phone, helping to drive the booming market for CMOS sensors.

Finally, Sony seemed to take a while to fully embrace the mobile phone revolution, but appears to be figuring things out, particularly when it comes to music and video.

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