Cell Phones Heed Call of the Wild
By Katie Dean
While the market for ring tones in
Europe is more developed, the cell-phone jingles are slowly gaining ground in
the United States. Billboard recently announced it will tally the top 20 ring
tones sold each week, starting with its Nov. 6 issue.
"The (ring tone) market has nowhere to go but up," said Joe Laszlo, a senior
analyst with Jupiter Research. "If I was a provider of unusual ring tones, it
might well be a good time to be looking at the U.S. market."
While it is unlikely that nature sounds are going to rocket to the top of the
charts, Laszlo said, "as different demographic groups start adopting ring tones
and ring-tone-capable phones, we'll only see the size of the total market grow.
It's a market that's going to support a lot of different players and a lot of
The U.K.'s Orange has sold several thousand of the bird and animal ring tones
per month since last November, according to Wooding. In the United States,
Classic Ring tones is working on deals with carriers to offer the nature calls;
individuals will also be able to download them directly from the company's
website starting in late November. In the meantime, they can beta test the
The nature sounds only play on phones capable of playing audio ring tones,
rather than polyphonic or monophonic tones. According to Jupiter data from July
2004, only 20 percent of U.S. handsets are capable of playing audio ring tones
now, but by 2006, every new handset sold in the United States should be capable
of playing them, Laszlo said.
"People tend to want to have ring tones of things they already know, things
people can relate to," Wooding said. Chimps, the mountain gorilla and Siberian
tiger are among the most popular choices. The company is also selling recordings
of rarer animals, like the call of the Kauai O'o, a Hawaiian bird presumed to be
The ring tones are an extension of Krause's work creating natural soundscapes
for museums and zoos. He left a successful career in the music industry --
playing with the Weavers folk group and contributing to movie and film
soundtracks -- to return to nature.
"I got really bored with the sounds of synthesizers and drum machines and stuff
like that because it wasn't played," Krause said. "We were replicating the
sounds we had done for other people again and again. I found (the animal world)
much more relaxing, much more interesting."