The markets for MP3 players in China and South Korea, with nearly 80 per cent of future purchases coming from existing owners, have matured faster than those in the rest of the world, analysts claim.

Parks Associates' new report "Digital Music and Portable MP3 Players", declares that among online populations in China and South Korea, more than three-quarters of consumers who plan to purchase an MP3 player in the next 12 months already own one.

Other countries show a different split: 70 per cent in the UK, 67 per cent in Germany, 66 per cent in Japan, and 58 per cent in France do not currently have an MP3 player. US intenders are split 50/50 between owners and first-time buyers.

"The MP3 player markets in China and South Korea hit the replacement/additional purchase stage faster than the rest of the world," said Harry Wang, research analyst at Parks Associates. "Higher penetration rates and the popularity of less-expensive flash-based devices both contributed to this phenomenon."

Wang added that Chinese and South Korean users are more knowledgeable than first-time buyers about new product features.

"These findings call for different approaches in marketing to these areas," Wang said. "In Western Europe and Japan, where first-time buyers drive the MP3 market, vendors must educate consumers and build brand awareness. In China and South Korea, vendors should work to discourage brand switching as well as offer product features that are uniquely appealing to these consumers."