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MP3: the fastest growing music format of all time

MP3 players are rapidly outselling CD players

iPod Nano, Touch, Shuffle and Classic

More than 32 million MP3 playing devices were sold in Britain during the 12 months leading up to the end of September 2008, according to the Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA).

Russel Coultart, Chairman of ERA Digital, said: ‘Never in the history of the music business, have we seen a format take off like this before’.

Eight million CD players were sold in the same quarter, but there has been debate on various blogs suggesting that these figures are incomparable, as MP3 players are often included on devices such as a mobile phones, as a secondary function. Whereas when CD players are bought on a micro hi-fi system or similar device, the music playing functionality is the sole reason for purchase.

MP3 players on mobile phones

The ERA report states that 24 million of the MP3 players bought were as part of a mobile phone, so if mobile phones were taken out of these figures, then the number of MP3 players and CD players purchased in the 12 months leading up to September 2008 would be equal.

Jon Barrow, Which? researcher, said: ‘While MP3 players on mobile phones were once considered luxury items, it is now uncommon to buy a mobile phone without this function. The figure is, therefore, slightly artificial, as not all mobile phone owners will necessarily use their phone as a music playing device.’

The ERA report states that around 90% of mobile phones sold in the UK have the ability to play MP3 files. Sat navs and cameras are also beginning to include MP3 playing technology, however in these instances, they are usually used as audio travel guides.

Sony Ericsson Walkman and Apple iPhone

The Sony Ericsson Walkman range and Apple’s iPhone have been designed especially for consumers who want to use their mobile phones as a music playing device. Almost 20 Sony Ericsson Walkman models feature alongside Apple’s iPhone 3G in the Which? mobile phone test. There are more than 200 MP3 players tested in the Which? MP3 player report.

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