Apple's iPod, "blows away mobile music challengers", according to analysts at Strategy Analytics

While the mobile telecoms industry wants very much to take a slice of Apple's digital music market share, their first-generation devices don['t meet the grade, the analysts said, on the basis of sound quality and usability.

Strategy Analytics' advanced buyer panel performed head-to-head benchmark tests against the iPod and also four leading mobile music-enabled devices: Samsung E720, O2 XM, SEMC V800 and the SPV500.

'Must do better'

Chris Ambrosio, Vice President of device research, added, "With a 20-plus point performance gap in perceived music quality, handset vendors and operators must do better to realize their visions of mobile music revenues and share support."

He observed a massive gap between the usability and sound reproduction consumers demand, and the product offerings available to the market today.

"The next wave of devices from Sony Ericsson (Walkman W600) and Motorola, among others, will have to cross the quality chasm, and provide dedicated music hardware to overcome the weaknesses of these first generation products," he warned.

'Mobile music must be interoperable'

Meanwhile at the Music 2.0 conference in the US, music industry analysts observed that, despite the proliferation of mobile phones, the concept of mobile music "speaks to a different segment" of the population.

Jonas Gerber, vice president of business development for ringtone firm Moderati: "Carriers are still working with a 'walled garden' approach to mobile music, creating impenetrable silos that could create customer adoption issues," he said, according to Digital Music News.

"Gerber believes that interoperability is the key to opening up the US market, using the example of SMS text messaging."

Technology plays catch-up

Bandwidth and battery life remain major hurdles to multimedia device. "The iPod has roughly four times the battery life of the average cell phone."

"For now, most agree that the mobile music won't be replacing the iPod anytime soon," the report concludes.

A recent report from the Informa Group also doused mobile operators music dreams.

"Just as cameraphones did not suddenly destroy the digital camera business, MP3-enabled phones will not seriously damage the digital music player market in the immediate future," the analysts said.