Cell phone ringtones invade campus, students' eardrums
By: Alex Fink
Wve all been in a lecture, trying to solve a difficult math problem, when 50
Cent rudely interrupts ons train of thought. Is a cell phone, bringing you the
hottest new ringtone whether you like it or not.
The mobile ringtone market is a $3.5 billion industry, and there is no escape
from this terribly catchy invasion of our daily lives.
In 2003, worldwide mobile ringtone sales were valued at $3.5 billion. Experts
predict that much higher figures are coming with the onslaught of subscription
services and increased advertising. Compare that figure to the U.S. pornography
industry, valued at about $3 billion, according to Forbes.
Did I stutter? Could the worldwide demand for 10 seconds of cellular annoyance
really be encroaching upon the horniness of Americans?
Maybe the Japanese actuallyget of on ringtones. Maybe people just enjoy having
their favorite entertainment personality interrupt their daily lives every half
hour or so. We cat make excuses. Wre being invaded.
In late May, a ringtone topped UK singles charts with more sales than the
leading musical artists in the region. Crazy Frog, a European ringtone
sensation, is the culprit. Popularized by content providers such as Jamster,
this annoying little creature needs a good stepping-on. This little frog has
generated so much revenue in cellular tone sales for its creators that an album
of its feisty techno beats has been released worldwide.
Fortunately, this CD is terrible. It can be best described as techno with the
Crazy Frog character doingshout-outs While this may fly as a ringtone, most
human beings wot be able to tolerate it for more than a few minutes.
Actually, our Special Forces in Guantanamo may have just discovered a new
vehicle for eliciting confessions from detainees. I can already see it in action
Interrogator speaking to sleep-deprived terror suspectYou wot speak? How would
you like 24 more hours of booming Crazy Frog
Besides the immediate annoyance they present, these ringtones can gouge
Americans with obscenely high, unanticipated mobile phone bills. Jamster, the
service that has recently been harassing late night TV viewers with repetitive
ads, signs you up for a monthly subscription billed on your phone bill.
Other services are capable of signing you up for subscriptions in excess of $30
per month with less effort on your part than dialing a long distance number.
While this could mean sweet revenge if you gain access to your archnemesis
phone, kids across the nation are generating big revenue at their parent expense
with these unscrupulous services.
Besides stabbing the creators of theseauto-shi (automatic membership) services
to death with dessert forks, there is a feasible solution to this problem.
Wireless communications providers arguably have the ability to restrict access
to these services at the request of the customer, but this would mean asking
these weasels to give up another source of revenue. They get a piece of the pie
in data transfer charges and other associated royalties, so it will likely take
large lawsuits to force all of them to change their ways.
Dot let wireless providers convince you that they dot deserve to share the blame
for this mess. They are capitalizing on it to the fullest extent permitted by
law, and they may even be overstepping legal boundaries in order to make the
extra dollar. Take my situation for example: I bought a Motorola V-710 from
Verizon Wireless last June. This phone was advertised as having Bluetooth
connectivity by smooth-talking sales reps and Verizon advertisements. Upon
buying the phone, I quickly discovered that Verizon had crippled the phons
Bluetooth connectivity, prohibiting you from transferring files (such as
ringtones or pictures) from other devices. This forces you to pay for Verizos
transfer services, and now there is a class action suit in the works in
California over this issue (Verizon advertised Bluetooth connectivity, which is
supposed to include file transfer).
With all the stress and mayhem surrounding college life, I cat comprehend why
anyone would want to throw Crazy Frog into the middle of it. Why cat phones just