AT&T: Yeah, Putting Ads In People's Ringtones Sounds Like A Great Idea

An AT&T executive is touting how the company’s efforts to get the old Ma Bell gang back together will help it beat cable operators, because of its ability to offer wireless services through Cingular. He says that once the AT&T-BellSouth merger closes (it’s scheduled to be voted on by the FCC on Friday, but questions still remain over what conditions will be attached), AT&T will be able to use wireless services as a differentiator for a few years, before cable companies’ JV with Sprint yields any results. That sounds like little more than hype, since he later says it will be two years before AT&T can offer any sort of integrated services between its wired video and wireless networks, by which time this supposed head start will have evaporated. What’s more striking from the article, however, is that he apparently says advertising on mobile phones will be a cornerstone of the fully merged up company’s mobile efforts, and it’s considering putting ads in ringtones. Yes, you read that correctly: somebody at AT&T thinks advertising in customers’ ringtones is a good idea. The fact that they’re even considering this would be unbelievable if it wasn’t coming from somebody like AT&T. Sure, this might open up a new revenue stream, but it’s unlikely that it would come close to offsetting the damage done by irritating customers — and alienating non-AT&T users (otherwise known as “potential customers”) as well. We’ve pointed out before how the telcos hate to innovate. If this is the kind of “innovations” they come up with, perhaps they should just give up altogether.

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