Multitudes of Cell Phone Ring Tones Available. Source: The Dallas Morning News It's no coincidence that a Google
search for "free ring tones" turns up more than 2 million results.
The market for custom cellular phone music has exploded, much to the surprise of
smarty-pants analysts who never anticipated their popularity.
The free stuff is nice for a start. But teens and rabid music fans are demanding
more. Evidently, it's worth $1 to $5 to millions of users to have the latest hit
announce their incoming calls.
A host of Web sites now offer ring-tone subscriptions, letting consumers update
their mobile ringers daily.
But the U.S. market is still plagued by inconsistencies, compared to Europe and
Japan. Some carriers force you to visit their home Web sites for ring-tone
purchases compatible with your model. And, chances are, the selections at
Nokia.com aren't going to be as complete as the vast array of independent sites
offering service to Europeans and the Japanese.
If ring tones are paramount in your life, there is a growing list of options.
Depending on the phone model, you can compose your own. Or you can mix tracks,
turning instruments on and off, adding effects and selecting variations.
Prepaid ring-tone download cards are making their appearance in gas stations and
convenience stores. (But make sure you match the card and your phone model. Read
the fine print.)
And a new class of ring tone is being hatched. About.com is one of the first Web
sites to employ a ring tone artiste, Martin Plante of Paris, to develop custom
mixes just for its visitors.
The Europeans and Japanese are already using their faster cell networks to load
phones with high-quality music in MP3 and other formats. As the U.S. cellular
networks mature, it won't be long until affordable cellphones are streaming and
storing every song your credit card can handle.
THE ACTION FILE: Ring tones
Each cellphone manufacturer has a different ringtone engine. The engines inside
your phone determine the quality of sound you'll get when the cell goes off.
Polyphonic ringers play more than one tone at a time and can sound like a small
orchestra; monophonic phones play a single tone at a time. Polyphonic ringers
cost a little more and soak up your minutes to download.
The number of available octaves and duration of notes can dramatically affect
the way music is replayed. Eric Bernatchez, About.com's ring-tone expert, ranks
Sanyo and Nokia cellphones at the top. Alcatel and Ericsson phones bring up the
rear. Here are some ring tone Web sites:
Hellomoto.com has three DJs -- Paul Van Dyk, Felix Da Housecat and DJ Collette
-- who work exclusively for Motorola, developing tracks that can be purchased
and downloaded at its site. The tracks allow personalization with Motomixer
Ringtonia (www.textually.org/ringtonia) keeps up with fast-changing ring-tone
TheRingtones.com is an eclectic compendium of free polyphonic and monophonic
Handango.com is a good place to start shopping for the latest commercial
Ringtone-converters.com has computer-based programs that help you move music
stored on your PC to your cell with a little work.