Sell Yourself A Ringtone
By Eric Lin, Sat Oct 23 01:00:00 GMT 2004

The music industry's efforts to get rich off of ringtunes begins to backfire as another company has entered the user-generated ringer arena.

In Europe ringtunes may be expensive, but many phones are equipped with Bluetooth, allowing users to create their own ringers (as well as other personalization content) and transfer it to their handset. Most North American mobile phones do not have Bluetooth, or if they do, many only have support for hands-free kits. Xingtone has already developed a simple application that helps many US users get around this deficiency. Using a PC and any music file, users can make the track into a variety of ringtone files which can then be sent to a handset.

Xingtone works on a PC software model: buy the package once and create an infinite number of ringtone files. A new entry to the same market works on a content service model instead. SnipnSend uses a browser applet instead of a stand-alone software package to create mp3 ringtones from a CD. Each ringtone a user sends to his phone costs $1.50. The company has obviously spent a great deal of effort to make sure it does not have to pay record labels or artists for the courtesy of using their music as a ringtone. Customers must use their own CD as a source for the music file, and no songs are available from the company itself. Since the user is only allowed to create files from music he has already purchased, SnipnSend is hoping fair use laws will allow it to bypass any licensing or broadcast charges,

Subscribers around the world are quite aware of what ringtones cost them, however few are aware that up to half of the money they are paying goes to publishers or authors. SnapnSend allows users to download ringtunes for less money than a carrier charges for one, or even a polyphonic ringtone, but is it cheap enough? Because SnipnSend requires the use of a PC, it must contend with savvy users who are accustomed to buying songs for 99 cents or ripping them from CDs for free. Once they use SnipnSend to rip the ringtune and pay $1.50 to send it to their mobile phones, users still face data charges from their carrier as well. Users are crying out for a way to customize their handsets, and giving them access to their entire library of music instead of just today's popular hits that are available from mobile content sites clearly taps that desire. However SnipnSend, like many other companies trying to enter this challenging space, faces the difficult task of convincing PC users (since the application is on a PC, not on the mobile phone) to pay for something they are accustomed to getting for free.