Old and Tired: Polyphonic Ringtones. The New Hotness: Ring Videos.
By Carlo Longino, Thu Jun 03 14:30:00 GMT 2004

They've pioneered mobile karaoke, moved past MP3 and AAC ringtones, and conquered ringback tones. Now the Japanese are getting into video clips that play when you get a call.

The videos, known as chaku-motion, are growing in popularity in the country. Japan Inc. says the videos generally feature well-known Japanese artists saying something like "you've got a phone call" or feature short-form music videos or live performances, and cost users about $2 for a 10- to 20-second clip. NTT DoCoMo is pushing the popular downloads as some of the top content available for its newest FOMA handsets.

Content providers are struggling to keep up with consumers' demand for new videos. While buying rights for ringtones was simple, it's more complex for videos, even though they're simpler to produce than the tones. Some are getting around this by using indie-label artists, and one site "features famous musical phrases for various instruments played by studio professionals. While the phrase is playing, one or more still-frame photos of the original artist are displayed on the screen," Japan Inc. reports.

It's pretty reasonable to assume that this is one innovation that's going to have a hard time making it off the islands, for any number of reasons. Flipping a phone open to watch a video clip play out when the phone rings seems, well, pretty pointless -- though of course this is a place where one carrier bragged its ringtones can play for 45 seconds, as opposed to the other carriers' puny 30 seconds. Silly us for thinking the phone ring was just a means to an end.