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Friday, November 23, 2007

Ringtones, a good business

Hope you enjoyed those Ringtone profits --
The days of fleecing folks for $2.49 for a snippet of song may now be numbered. Apple will let you take any part of an actual song for $.99 (so long as you've also spent the $.99 to buy the original from iTunes).
As far as I know, the carrier gets nothing.
It's not just the lost cash profits that will hurt. To the extent that the industry has to follow Apple's lead--highly likely--then AT&T and its carrier pals will no longer be able to point so much to this silly market as proof that they can build profitable new consumer service offerings on top of their basic business of selling connections.
If ever there was a market just waiting for disruption by the likes of Apple, this was it.

Hello, Wifi -- When the iPhone launched, Steve Jobs made a good show of talking up the merits of Ma Bell and its network.
But today's wireless download services work only with WiFi, not with AT&T's or any other cellular carriers network.
Jobs even went out of his way during his presentation to point out that WiFi is not only faster than the 2.5G network iPhone users now get from AT&T, but faster than 3G networks as well.
Now, spin things forward to a future of ubiquitous WiMax connectivity, delivered in large part courtesy of Apple's friends at Intel. If that day ever arrives, is there any doubt where Apple will focus its efforts?

The iPod touch -- It's a compelling product in many ways--but the most obvious target market are folks who would love to have an iPhone but just don't want the phone part. That means there will be some people that might have switched to AT&T to get an iPhone, anyway--but now don't have to.

Peter Burrows

I continue to be simultaneously impressed and depressed by the inane ringtone marketplace. To the extent that the carriers have been treating this as a wonderous profit center, they've built an edifice on a foundation not merely of quicksand, but of thin air.

I'm not talking about Steve Jobs' ringtone announcement -- that's still in the silly category, because ... one day more people are going to realize that they can take just about any mp3 file or midi file and convert them for free to use as ringtones. Free. Not $2.49, not 99 cents.

Yes, it takes a bit of effort to get the ringtones onto some phones, but there are tools to automate the process, and most modern cell phones can handle midi and often mp3 files with relatively minor processing (if any).

It is staggering to see people paying ridiculous amounts for ringtones even of public domain selections that are freely available.

The carriers have been playing on the general public's lack of information about how ringtones work and how easy they are to create. That particular house of cards is likely to collapse soon, with or without Steve Jobs' assistance.


Lauren Weinstein
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