I will take back every bad thing I’ve ever said about ringtones. Yes, they are a waste of money. Yes, they are silly status symbols. Yes, they serve no useful function other than to annoy your neighbor. But I have to say it makes my day to hear Sarah Vaughn and realize that my phone is ringing.
According to The New Yorker, ringtones generated four billion dollars in sales around the world in 2004. Apparently in parts of Asia, ringtone sales bring in more money than music CD sales. The US market is slowly catching up to the rest of the developed world in ringtone sales, with the market dominated by under-30-year-olds downloading hip hop clips as their ringtones.
Now I like 50cent and Twista as much as anybody else, but I was really sold on the idea when I found the hundreds of jazz and swing clips Cingular offers their customers as ringtones. From Miles Davis to Lionel Hampton to Harry Connick Jr, I had my pick of cool jazzy samples. Beyond jazz, I could download classical, “oldies,” Christian, or country music to my Motorola.
Five minutes and $2.50 later, I had Sarah Vaughn singing the Peter Gunn theme out of my pocket.
And thus another ringtone consumer is born.