With Nokia, Vodafone and others making moves into the mobile music scene, and the introduction of the Apple iPhone, a recent report claiming that mobiles will account for 30 per cent of music's retail value by 2011 underlines what's to play for in the emerging space.

New industry analysis from researchers, Understanding & Solutions, observes that music delivered to mobile phones using operators’ own networks is becoming more popular, currently representing around 13 per cent of global recorded music retail value.

The report predicts that this value will climb to "almost 30 per cent by 2011, amounting to $11 billion."

“Alongside online, mobile music is essential to the future of the music industry,” said Understanding & Solutions Consultant, David Sidebottom. “Japan, closely followed by the USA, has the most efficient mobile music landscape: both countries have a concentrated operator base and a large pool of potential subscribers, providing economies of scale for the music companies.

“In the fragmented European market, some operators have become less aggressive, as they can’t make money directly from selling full track downloads, but this will pave the way for ‘off-portal’ and third party service providers.”

The researchers also predict that mobile music services could emerge as a de facto music retail choice in those parts of the world which lack the infrastructure for brick and mortar music retailers, or in territories in which music piracy has become a challenge, or areas in which computers aren't widely deployed.

“Looking to emerging markets, mobile could become the number one platform for music, where packaged CDs haven’t gained traction due to piracy and lack of hardware ownership,” Sidebottom said. “Both China and India are showing large revenue gains, which are being driven by strong mobile subscriber growth and the status associated with music-related personalised mobile products.”

It's unclear if ringtone sales were included for the purposes of this report.