Understanding the mobile music market these days seems a bit challenging. While the industry is surprised, but thrilled, that kids who won't pay for downloadable music online are shelling out much more money on snippets of songs for downloadable ringtones, it's unclear if that market can last. While the going is good, however, wireless carriers are starting to more actively push for "ringback" tones, which are what people hear when they call you and are waiting for you to pick up the phone (instead of the standard computerized ringing you normally hear through the phone). While, in the past, some have found this confusing (you don't expect to hear music when you call someone, you expect to hear "ring ring"), ringback tones are apparently tremendously successful in places like South Korea. Still, if you want to be even more confused, a new study found that most people have no interest in paying to download music to their phone - no matter how much it costs. It's not that they're against paying, as many would pay for other content on their phone, it's just that they don't want to pay for music. So, the question is whether or not this is consistent with reality? Are these people who say they won't pay for music on their phones not buying ringtones? Or do they somehow consider ringtones (and potentially ringback tones) different than "music," and therefore worth shelling out? Also, a single snapshot may not be useful. People may not want to buy ringtones until they see that all of their friends have done so already. Still, the large number of people who seem very against the idea of paying for music for their mobile phone might be a warning sing that things like ringtones and ringback tones are something of a fad that may not last.
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