Ringtones Set for Extinction?

Ringtones Set for Extinction?
It seems like forever ago but there once was a time when ringtones were all the rage. In fact, as a recent industry report notes, up until two years ago, people were adamant about putting their favourite song on their phone so they could hear a horrifically tinny version of it when you dialled them up.

Folks shelled out three bucks for the privilege, generating $1 billion per year for the industry and inspiring musicians to tweak songs specifically for that purpose. Even software companies created programs so you could turn your own creations/albums into personalized ringtones and composers dedicated themselves solely to crafting something catchy enough that you deemed it a must for those 15 seconds of rooting for your damned handset.

As the report continues, though, with the advent of texts, smartphones and mobile apps, cellphones aren't ringing as much as they used to, forcing ringtone revenue down consistently. The report reveals that a consumer analyst group predicts that, in 2010, U.S. ringtone revenue will reach about $750 million, down from $881 million in 2007, and will most likely become extinct by 2016.

Frank Dickson, tech analyst group In Stat's vice-president of research, notes that, "People used to talk on their cellphones [but] we've become a text-centric society, which takes away from talking, which takes away from ringtones."

The comment is supported by hard numbers: in the past two years, the average amount of text messages sent by each U.S. cellphone user more than doubled to 584 texts per month (from 218 per month), while the average number of calls has decreased almost 15 percent.

Strangely, though, hearing songs on your end may have declined in popularity but ringback tones - what other people hear while waiting for you to answer - are on the rise. Their revenue more than doubled since 2005, reaping approximately $200 million for record labels, according to another analyst group, SNL Kagan.

Think about this, people. Labels can't get you to pay for something you want to hear but you'll gladly shell out wads of dough for something you'll never experience, let alone force other into: sitting through "Back In Black" while you again hunt for your friggin' phone?

Thanks to The Daily Swarm for the heads-up.

Bring back the non-music ringtone: