A full year ago to this very day, Sprint (now SprintNextel) announced a selection of video ringtones.
Yesterday at Spring VON 2006, Internet telephony pioneer and visionary Jeff Pulver told a bunch of us that he thinks video ring tones are going to be real major. He believes these will be a major artifact of broadband cellular network build-outs, and related promotions that are sure to accompany the inevitable march to the ubiquity of rich-display, broadband-enabled, 3G handsets.
Gee, I hope not. OK, I do admit that a short, distinctive ringtone is useful, especially in crowds.
Maybe I am old-fashioned, though, but audio ring tones with more than about 16 notes are incredibly distracting and annoying. The number 1 song on this week's Billboard Singles Chart is "So Sick" by Ne-Yo. Hey, I believe in artistic freedom and all of that, but blasting that in a crowd is to me the equivalent of blowing smoke in my face.
Already popular in the UK, Video ringtones hold the promise of being even more irritating. They don't tell you that you have a call, or who is calling you. All they are is the painful result of a content-distribution model that makes money for the hacks who are making much, if not most, of what passes for music today.
I suppose that video ringtones can also function as a declaration that "hey, this is me, and this is the music I like." But frankly, I don't care.