Mobile music downloads struggle to make headway

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Fewer than 2 percent of mobile users in the United States and western Europe used their phone to download music in the first quarter, showing the uphill task facing Apple iTunes challengers like Nokia.

Although 24 percent listened to music on their phone, the vast majority loaded the tracks on to their handset from music they already had on a computer, according to data from industry tracker comScore released on Wednesday.

Services such as Nokia's Comes With Music and advertising-funded start-up Spotify, which both launched in late 2008, have sought to break iTunes's virtual monopoly of the legal market for digital music.

Nokia does not say how many users it has for Comes With Music, which comes free with certain handsets and allows users to download millions of tunes to their phones or PC for a year and keep them afterwards.

Stockholm-based Spotify has more than 7 million users. It has a free service for listeners who accept advertising, and paid-for services without ads.

Rhapsody America was one of the first services to offer unlimited music packages, in 2007, in an attempt to rival iTunes. Its owners, RealNetworks and Viacom, are now separating it into an independent company.

ComScore's data was gathered from users aged 13 and over in Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States.

The figures also showed that 82 percent of users in the five European countries used their phone for text messaging, 35 percent for applications including games, and 25 percent browsed the Web on their phone.

(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; Editing by David Cowell)

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