Phones that sing.
Source: Asia Africa Intelligence Wire
Mobile phones don't ring these
days, they sing - or bark as the case may be. The tring, tring of phones has
been replaced by a host of tunes ranging from movie songs to corny dialogues to
barking dogs. Thanks to the mobile consumer's love for changing tunes every few
days, mobile operators are singing all the way to the bank.
Ringtones are big business for mobile operators. Internationally, the size of
the market for mobile ringtones is estimated to have grown from $450m in '03 to
$1.5bn in '04. In India, though, the ringtone market rang in a modest Rs 30
crore last year. "During the current year, we expect the ringtone market to grow
about 50-60%," Balu Nayar, head, value-added services, Hutch, told MarkETing.
Industry players are not disheartened by the small numbers. They believe they
are on the threshold of the growth curve.
"Indians do not get turned on by wallpapers and such other services, but music
does turn them on," said a telecom analyst. The fetish for music, compared to
other applications like wallpaper downloads or forwarding messages, could be
because the latter applications are interesting only on colour handsets.
Currently, colour cells comprise no more than 10% of the country's handset
India is different from the world market in terms of choice of music too. Film
music, mainly from Hindi films, is a clear favourite. Apart from a Mission
Impossible, international music hasn't done too well on cells, according to
industry sources. Sweet music for Indian music firms. The taste in ringtones is
similar to an average Indian's taste in music - filmi music and Indipop.
Not surprisingly, regional biases do show up even in ringtone downloads. It's
Tamil, Telugu or Kannada music for southern India, while its Bangla music for
those in the east. While the trend is usually to download the latest film songs,
some distant hits like Dil Chahta Hai and Kaanta Laga remain popular.
Internationally, ringtones are popular among teenagers, but in India, this
feature cuts across age groups, except for high-level corporate executives.
Understandable, since a Kaanta Laga would be a trifle embarrassing in a
For the serious types, there is a choice of downloads like classical music, both
Indian and Western, instrumental and others.
Then there are the whacky tones: Dogs barking or funny dialogues, like
renditions of Dharmendra's Kutte, kaminey, main tera khoon pi jaoonga.
The frequency of downloads depends from person to person, with some subscribers
changing ringtones every week, and teenie boppers switching as often as twice or
thrice a week. For those hooked on the latest melody, Reliance provides its
various ringtones free, but other operators charge Rs 7 for each download - not
too steep a price for music lovers and those who feel the need to be hip and
happening. Handsets that support polyphonic ringtones have also helped to deepen
the market for ringtones. Apart from mobile operators, music companies are also
reaping the benefits of this growing fad: Of the Rs 7 charged to a subscriber,
telcos have to share about a rupee with the government and another Rs 2 with the
In the early days, before ringtone downloads became popular, every time a mobile
phone rang, everyone in the room would reach for their cell. Now, when I hear,
Piya tu, ab to aaja, I know its my phone calling me.