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Thursday, September 13, 2021

While I was gushing over the forthcoming iPod Touch, I took a second to wonder about a new iPhone feature:

I’m curious about the new service allowing conversion of select iTunes tracks into customized ringtones. I’m surprised AT&T went along with this. Ringtone sales are a hot revenue-generator for the phone companies; this would seem to undercut that. Maybe it’s a test market thing, given the iPhone’s relatively small base.

Details are now available, and they seem to confirm that Apple’s upending (somewhat) the $5 billion U.S. ringtone market:

Apple is selling a ringtone and the full song together for $2, and claims that that’s a bargain.

As it turns out, that’s correct—at least compared with existing sources for ringtone sales. Pop song ringtones from T-Mobile and Sprint cost $2.50 apiece; from Verizon, $3. You don’t get to customize them, choose the start and end points, adjust the looping and so on [as you can with iTunes-purchased ringtones]. Incredibly, after 90 days, every Sprint ringtone dies, and you have to pay another $2.50 if you want to keep it. Verizon’s last only a year.

Three bucks for a 30-second snippet that lasts a year—when you can buy the entire song online for $1 and own it forever?

David Pogue can’t seem to figure out why users should pay anything at all for the ability to snip a music track into a ringtone. I can’t believe he didn’t already know about the brisk business wireless providers do in ringtone sales. And that’s only starting to roll in America — in Europe and Japan, the ringtone has been an established music-release format for a decade, routinely sold alongside CDs, digital, video and cassette. Nothing new, and no reason to freak out over yet another way to extract revenue. Like I said, I’m surprised AT&T went along with it.

I’ll disclose my personal ringtone policy: I don’t buy them, and don’t plan to. I do, in fact, use Bitpim to hack into my LG phone to load up clipped MP3 files for customized musical ringtones; a shoot through the archives on this blog will reveal some past dabbling in this area. Works well enough for me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/13/2007 11:50:59 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

How is Buffalo carrying out its urban renewal? By knocking down big swaths of itself:

Mayor Byron W. Brown recently unveiled a $100 million five-year plan to rip down 5,000 houses, about half of all the vacant houses in the city, which ranks second only to St. Louis in the percentage of vacant properties per capita nationwide.

The best way to save Buffalo, he reasons, is to mow down the buildings on these properties — starting with the ones deemed the worst fire hazards or those near schools — and encourage church groups, entrepreneurs and neighbors to build homes in their place.

I guess if there’s less of the city left standing, there’ll be less left to revitalize.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/13/2007 10:55:58 PM
Category: Politics, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

Oh, those pesky low-level cash purchases. They add up to an individual average of $2,340 in annual “lost” spending money:

The money’s not actually misplaced, just inexplicably frittered away. Wayne Best, senior vice president at Visa, calls it “mystery spending.”

“You do spend the money, but you’re not really sure where you spent it,” he said. More could be spent during a night out on the town, for example, than you thought. Or maybe there’s been a lot of ice-cream buying for the kids that you’ve forgotten about. Picking up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk at the store throughout the week adds up too, he said.

Of course, these findings come from Visa USA. So they’re meant to illustrate how loosey-goosey it is to blow your money via untraceable greenbacks, instead of with Visa-branded plastic, which itemizes everything on a monthly statement.

So this amounts to a strategically commissioned piece of research that’s meant to push alternative payment methods. It doesn’t invalidate the results, or suggest that they’re somehow slanted. But if Visa couldn’t leverage them into a marketing opportunity, they never would have been compiled.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/13/2007 10:36:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Society | Permalink | Feedback