TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Sorting Out the Three-Ring Circus of Ringtones

Sorting Out the Three-Ring Circus of Ringtones

Monty Solomon (
Fri, 7 Jan 2005 23:03:55 -0500

Sorting Out the Three-Ring Circus of Ringtones


If your cellphone is still just ringing when someone calls, you're way
behind the times. According to the cellphone industry, your phone
should be vibrating, flashing a photo of the caller across the phone's
screen and above all, playing music -- preferably an actual clip from
a song like "Drop It Like It's Hot" by Snoop Dogg.

We're talking about sounds that go way beyond the built-in menu of
dinky tunes that probably came with your phone. These special effects,
called "ringtones," are sold mainly by the carriers and are a large
and growing profit center for them.

Of course, you might be one of many people who thinks cellphone
ringers that play loud songs in public can be rude and annoying. I
know I am. But wouldn't it be kind of a gas to have Billy Joel's song,
"Pressure" playing whenever your boss calls? If nothing else, you're
probably curious about how ringer downloading works so you can know
how your kid is spending his, her or your money.

So, this week, my assistant Katie Boehret and I took a closer look at
ringtones by borrowing phones from three carriers -- Verizon Wireless,
Cingular and Sprint -- and downloading various ringtones to see which
service offered the most straightforward solution. We also browsed
around on a few popular Web sites that sell ringtones for anywhere
from about $1.25 to $4.

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