A ringtone can be anything these days, which is good news for the consumer who wants many options, but bad news for the companies that formerly made their living selling specific songs and patterns to accompany a mobile phone’s rings. Such names as Dwango, YourMobile, and Zingy are now part of the history of the ringtone phenomenon but not necessarily part of the future.
All ringtones might sound alike to those who are annoyed by them, but the difference between past and present-future technology is massive. Polyphonic ringtones, the ones that many early mobile phone users are familiar with, have lost their market share in a huge way, giving ground to master ringtones, with their lusher sound and wider potential. Indeed, full songs are becoming more and more popular with mobile users, leading many to listen to as much of the song as they can before answering their phones (no doubt annoying those calling them in the process).
This rather fast death of the polyphonic provider came about when carriers figured out that they could offer their own polyphonic ringtones and then bypass that technology altogether by going with the more in-the-moment music of master ringtones. The meteoric rise of some of these companies was followed by a descent just as precipitous in some cases.
The ringtone pioneers that are still around, like 9Squared, are planning to jump on the social networking bandwagon while it is still white hot, figuring that any kind of positive growth is, well, positive. Others are still doggedly pursuing monthly subscription plans, which are still around but becoming less and less popular in the era of repeated one-off purchases.