Who's calling? Customized ring tones personalize your cell phone.
Byline: Ann Weber
If Kylee Broughton's cell phone emits a catchy burst of Barry Manilow's
"Copacabana," the 25-year-old Toledoan knows she's getting a call from her
brother Bryan Pacholski, who lives in Mexico.
If it's Etta James' silky, romantic "At Last," she doesn't have to pick up the
phone to know it's her husband, Craig, calling. That song was played at their
"It's caller ID for the hands-free age," explained Ms. Broughton, publications
coordinator and adviser to the student newspaper at Owens Community College.
Ms. Broughton has nine ring tones, not including those oh-so-yesterday ringers
that came pre-programmed in the phone. And thus she's part of a trend that has
become so big -- reportedly $3 billion in sales worldwide -- that last year
Billboard magazine began ranking the top-selling musical ring tones, just as it
has charted CD and record sales for years.
Its Billboard Hot Ringtones Chart debuted in November; currently in first place
is "Candy Shop" by 50 Cent featuring Olivia.
Billboard also added a Ringtone of the Year category to its annual awards,
bestowing the title in December to 50 Cent's "In Da Club."
Custom ring tones can be downloaded from Internet sites. Some tones are
advertised as being free, some are 99 cents apiece and up, and some are
available for purchase in package deals -- three for $5.99, for example. Some
sites offer unlimited downloading of ring tones and other goodies such as
screensavers and games for a specified time period -- six months, a year -- for
"It allows you to personalize your phone," Nikki Learakos, Midwest area
marketing manager for Verizon Wireless, said in an interview from her office in
Schaumburg, Ill. And, by knowing who is calling just by the ring tone, "it helps
you manage your calls."
If the tone tells you it's someone whose call probably isn't urgent -- or
someone you're trying to duck -- you just let it ring. The tone lasts as long as
the standard ring does before going to voice mail, Mrs. Learakos said.
Not every ring tone that strikes one's fancy can be downloaded; the cell phone
model and service provider have to support a particular software. And older cell
phones generally don't have the capability to download ring tones.
Mrs. Learakos said Verizon Wireless began selling its "Get It Now" phones that
are capable of downloading ring tones and other such add-ons in June, 2002. (Its
newest offering, now available in most western states, are ringback tones --
musical clips that callers hear instead of a standard ring.)
Verizon and other providers offer thousands of ring tone options, including
music of all genres and theme songs from television shows and movies. Some are
instrumental versions of songs, some are snippets of original songs with lyrics,
both oldies and hot current offerings. Some software applications give cell
phone users the ability to mix their own ring tones.