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UK mobile phone users are "download junkies" spending a whopping £740m on ringtones, games and pictures, according to research outfit Mintel.

The surge in spending - up from £40m in 2002 - is attributed to the ease of downloading and increasing familiarity with digital gear.

UK mobile phone users are "download junkies" spending a whopping £740m on ringtones, games and pictures, according to research outfit Mintel.

The surge in spending - up from £40m in 2002 - is attributed to the ease of downloading and increasing familiarity with digital gear.

Ringtones account for a third of all downloads with games racking up a quarter of sales. The rest is made up of wallpapers/screensaves, music and gambling, with gaming set to explode over the next 12 months.

Said Mintel analyst Jenny Catlin: "The rapid rise in sales of downloads has a lot to do with the public's acceptance of new technological solutions, such as DVDs, internet and other devices that have become integral parts of modern life.

"The user-friendly nature of downloading, which is really no more difficult or unfamiliar than texting, has also helped foster a sense that receiving downloads are fun diversions."

Despite the massive growth, the industry needs to understand that mobile content is not a licence to print money. People quizzed by Mintel said they were worried about the hidden costs associated with downloading with one in five parents concerned that their children could be duped by content providers and end up racking up high charges.

Earlier this week mobile content portal Jamster! announced plans for parents to have greater control over their kids' spending. Its "Jamster! Guardian" service lets parents enter their kids' mobile phone number onto the Jamster! website to prevent content from being downloaded to that phone.


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