It's been amusing to hear those in the mobile space and the music space insist that ringtones were the second coming of both music and mobile data, when it seemed pretty clear to many outside observers that it was a huge bubble in the making -- not just because the idea of ringtones could certainly be viewed as a fad, but because those offering up ringtones were doing everything possible to screw up the market. They were increasingly trying to squeeze more and more money out of buyers by jacking up the price of ringtones to a point where people began to question why they were paying three or four times as much to get a snippet of a song that only played when someone called you, as they paid for the whole damn song on iTunes. On top of that, people started to realize that many of the songs they wanted as ringtones were songs they had already bought elsewhere, and it seemed a bit silly to pay for the same song again (especially as it's getting easier to create your own ringtone). However, the final straw was probably the fact that many ringtone aggregators and sellers were most focused on tricking users into signing up for a subscription when they simply meant to download a single ringtone. This nasty practice is leading to calls to regulate the sale of ringtones to avoid such sleazy practices. However, in the short term, with or without regulation, all of these things combined may have popped the ringtone bubble. That isn't to say the ringtone market is dead in any way, but it looks like it's going to start deflating. It does show how the industry has done its best to kill the golden goose as quickly as possible, rather than giving it a chance to keep producing for a while longer. If they were smart, the mobile industry would be working hard to transition this attention on mobile data into some other outlet, but it's unclear if they've got anything that will really sustain much interest just yet.
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