Wed, Jan 26, 2005 - Page 10 News List

More online users willing to pay for music downloads

By Amber Chung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's fledgling copyrighted online music distributors may have reason to be excited after learning that over half of Taiwanese Internet users are willing to pay for legal downloads of online music, according to a survey released by online market research firm InsightXplorer (創市際) yesterday.

The survey, which polled 1,000 Internet users through its cyber panel last October, showed that as many as 58.9 percent of people expressed a willingness to pay for online music services via distributors that legally obtain copyrights from record labels.

Up to 74.2 percent of this group of people has already bought music legally online, the survey said, and Internet users between 21 years old and 30 years old express a higher inclination to pay than others.

A more interesting finding is that 51.5 percent of people are considering switching from the lower-cost but copyright-disputed peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing services to copyright online music services that charge fees, the poll said.

"The result showed that more and more people have the concept that users must pay," InsightXplorer's chief executive officer Jason Chiang (江義予) said in a statement released yesterday.

Taiwan's copyrighted online music distributors include iBIZ Entertainment Technology Corp (艾比茲娛樂科技), Hinet and Rock Records' (滾石) joint venture HiMusic, BenQ Corp's (明基電通) QBand and Skysoft Co's (願境網訊) KKBOX, as well as P2P operators including kuro.com.tw (飛行網) and Ezpeer.com.tw.

The information may be inspiring but the real situation remains tough for copyrighted online music distributors.

"We have less than a 1 percent market share, while P2P service providers dominate the remainder," said Nicolas Chang (張詒明), marketing manager of BenQ's digital music center.

Since its inauguration in March last year, QBand has signed up over 400,000 members, including those from Club BenQ, a Web site that provides downloadable desktop pictures for computers as well as ring tones for mobile phones, according to Chang.

"Prices remain an issue for consumers," Chang said, adding that consumers find a charge of around NT$8.5 per download to be acceptable, while the current market price is around NT$30 or more.

Nevertheless, Chang is optimistic that Taiwan's online music service sector is moving in a positive direction after experiencing stagnant growth last year.

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