We've had an ongoing debate here over whether or not ringback tones in the US are more of a "fashion statement" that will go away, or a real trend. Ringback tones are what people hear when they call you (as opposed to ringtones, which is what you hear when people call you). There are two major issues that we've pointed out. First ringbacks are pretty much the definition of a fashion statement. Since the person buying them doesn't get to appreciate them -- it's only for showing off to friends. Fashion statements have been known to go out of fashion, sometimes very quickly. However, the bigger issue is education. You have to educate buyers as to why they want to spend a good bit of money for something they'll never hear -- and you have to educate your friends as to why they're hearing music instead of "ring ring" when they call you. Most people have no clue what ringbacks are, and seem somewhat confused the first time they hear them. Witness the minor "focus group" conducted by one ringback tone user in the US who notes that many callers hung up in confusion -- and others expressed confusion about what happened when they finally got through. It looks like almost every caller tried a few times, and hung up in confusion when they first heard the ringback tone. However, on the "pro" side, many seemed to like the idea once they understood the concept of ringback tones. So, it all comes back to education. The carriers are going to need to start quite the education campaign if they're really expecting this to take off.
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