In Tune

CANNES, France, Jan 22, 2007 (AFP) – Music fans, watch out.

The hot new music-enabled phones being launched by top cellphone makers are going head-on with the stand-alone MP3 players that are now a way of life for the millions who prefer them over an Apple iPod.

Key entertainment industry player Brad Duea, who heads up Napster, the now legal US subscription-based online music service, believes the music-rich new portables could outstrip MP3 players in the United States within two years.

Duea’s predictions and the excitement created earlier this month when Apple unveiled its “magical” new iPhone ensured star billing for the mobile phone sector at this year’s influential five-day MIDEM music industry trade fair that opened its doors here Sunday.

The floundering record industry, battered by plummeting CD sales worldwide and illegal music downloading, has pinned its hopes on the emerging digital music market and phones in particular, to bring in much needed new revenues.

And 2007 looks set to be the year these hopes start to be realised.