A Brilliant iPhone Prediction

by David Battino

Peter "Annoying Audio" Drescher knows ringtones, which is why his iPhone ringtone prediction is especially brilliant:

Let's say you wanted to corner the ringtone market in the brave new world of broadband. You'd need to produce a database of ringtones for sale in the standard format. You'd want it to cover a wide range of musical styles, since your target audience is "anybody with a cell phone." You'd want to keep it constantly updated with the latest sounds from the coolest kids. You'd want ringtones cataloged by various attributes, with an elegantly searchable interface.

Gee, I wonder where I might find a prodigious database of high-resolution 30-second AAC files, usually containing the characteristic section of a song? Possibly already being used to preview longer files before purchase? Ready, willing, and legal to be downloaded to a cool new device? Hey, I know!
Drescher Hip-pod

Ringtone designer Peter Drescher created a music phone by duct-taping an iPod Nano to the back of his T-Mobile Sidekick. But integration between the devices could be better.

What do you think? When iPhones ring, will they be playing random clips from the iTunes store?


2007-06-25 23:07:23
Nah. That would be annoying. Some companies may be willing to do that, but not Apple.
2007-06-26 05:56:53
No. It has a bunch of ringtones. They get shown in the iPhone guided tour video. They're not iTS songs.

Record companies make huge money from selling ringtones. No way they'd let Apple get around that just to help them out with their new phone.

Josh Peters
2007-06-26 08:47:00
Picture yourself at a party, or crossing the street. Suddenly you hear a clip from the latest Shakira single. You wonder whose phone plays that for its ringer. The clip ends and you continue down the block. Later a clip from Bob Dylan plays and you wonder whose phone plays "Just Like a Woman."

An hour later you realize that it was your phone ringing and you missed two calls.

Most of my friends don't realize their phone is ringing half of the time already, making the ringer random won't help one bit.

David Battino
2007-06-26 10:28:53
@CoolFactor: That would be annoying.

Ha ha! Drescher argues that ringtones are meant to be annoying. But as one of the first companies to grasp the power of sonic branding, or “earcons,” Apple probably does want to ensure that the sounds coming out of the iPhone are elegant. Still, it controls what clips get into the iTunes Store, so it could do that.

David Battino
2007-06-26 10:47:05
@Josh: Most of my friends don't realize their phone is ringing half of the time already; making the ringer random won't help one bit.

Good point, but the random clip wouldn’t have to come from the entire pool of iTunes songs. Ringtones are all about personalization, so I could easily imagine an option to hear a random clip from just your favorite playlists or artists, like the way some programs append an “I’m currently listening to _____” line to an e-mail signature.

David Battino
2007-06-26 10:59:53
@Paul: Record companies make huge money from selling ringtones. No way they’d let Apple get around that.

Ah, but what if the record companies got a cut of the resulting sales when someone clicked the “Like this ringtone/song? Buy it now!” button?

I think the real potential here is in promotion. Suppose the record company offered iPhone users a small payment to broadcast its latest song clips to the world. Again, that’s probably too smarmy for Apple, but I bet people would consent to blare commercials from their belts in exchange for discounted phone service.