Manufacturers like Samsung and LG are of course resistant to the idea, but the Korean Association of Phonogram Producers (KAPP) and Korean Music Copyright Association (KMCA) are demanding that new phones can only play MP3 music at low-fidelity, radio quality.
This demand is after a compromise – KAPP and KMCA originally required phones to only play MP3 files that had been purchased legally. In a market where 95% of MP3 files are said to be illegal, phone manufacturers felt that this would put consumers off.
The battle has become so embittered that Samsung has decided to delay the launch of their new MP3 Anycall handset.
Amid claims that MP3 players and pirated CDs have halved the value of the Korean music market, phone with music playback are expected to be extremely popular – there will be 150 new phones launched in Korea next year, and half the population already carry a mobile.
Yoon Seong-woo, a director of the Korea Association of Phonogram Producers said in a statement: “Our industry has been in a nose-dive since the release of MP3 players in 2000. At that time, we felt hopeless because Korean people were insensitive to copyright issues and we did not have any unified organization that could cope with the situation. Because the MP3 phone market is big enough to destroy the music industry, we’re struggling to defend it.”
It’s somewhat striking that the music industry should expect handset manufacturers to develop and sell inferior product to save their dwindling sales.
There are no currently legal download music services in Korea – surely giving consumers the option of buying music from an attractive, easy to use, reliable source would be far better? Samsung certainly think so and is looking to partner with a music site to provide a download service for its phones.