AT&T's String Of Useless Telephony Products Continues

from the pay-us-to-annoy-your-friends dept

AT&T is now selling people ringback tones for their landlines — a service that (contrary to what the original article states) replaces the ringing noise callers hear when they call a number with a song or another recording. Some mobile operators have been offering the service for some time, with mixed success outside Asia. Ringback tones have some problems: first, they’re just a fashion statement, and many users don’t have any interest in paying for something they themselves will never hear. But perhaps bigger is that they require a lot of education. They don’t make a whole lot of sense to many people at first, as evidenced by the confusion in the original article, where the writer thinks they’re ringtones for landline phones, and they don’t make a lot of sense to callers expecting to hear the normal “ring” when they call someone. Also, operators tend to do a pretty poor job of explaining why people would want to pay for the service, since it really doesn’t add any value to them — not to mention plenty of people get annoyed by ringbacks. Of course, there is one more possibility for what AT&T is doing: it wants to follow the idea other companies have had and use ringbacks for advertising. Given that the company apparently thinks it would be a good idea to put ads in ringtones, it would hardly be surprising to see them do it with ringbacks as well.

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Comments on “AT&T's String Of Useless Telephony Products Continues”

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James Quintana Pearce says:

There is some value

I think there’s a fair bit of value in ringback tones. It’s for people who want to project something, which of course depends on the person. I’d be more likely to change ringback tones more often, for two reasons: I don’t change my ringtone, because everytime I do it takes me a fair while to identify the new sound in the environment as indicating that I have a call. Also, with some things that my friends see/hear regularly I want to keep them fresh, so I change my IM tag, I update Flickr regularly, and so on.
I think ringback tones are like bumper stickers — the person driving the car can’t see the bumper sticker, so why buy it?

Richard Ahlquist (profile) says:

Yeah but.....

There is a good possible use for this. As some of you know you can use your answering machine to play the SIT tones to declare your number is no longer in service to get rid of automated telemarketing calls. Well replace your ringer with the SIT tones followed by an announcement of your own.

I see potential in this. Info on SIT tones etc can be found ( )

joe (user link) says:

i hate these things. My father-in-law’s cell phone has one. When i call him and hear it, i’m still never sure if his phone is ringing, or if i’m on hold, or if i’m being transferred.
hearing the ringing is an actual indication that the other person’s phone is ringing, and it gives you an indication as to how long you should wait before hanging up. With the song thing, i’m never sure if i should wait for voice mail or if i should hang up.

Anonymous Coward says:

the reason many people don’t like them, like joe, is because they are different.

we associate the ringing with the actual phone ringing. we associate music/ads/voice overs to mean we are on hold/transfering.

for the longest time, people wanted their cell phones to be an actual phone ring sound. that way, they realized they had a call. after a while, they got a bit fancier, and so on, up to today’s mp3’s as ringtones.

so it takes time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

it interferes with usability. because ringing is associated with the actual phone ringing on the other end it becomes confusing to those making the call – like joe said.

too much style DOES equal useless – this became obvious early on with the web when animated gif’s were popular.

I would likely stop calling somebody’s number if their ring bothered me. All they’d get from me is a complaint about how lame it is.

this is a waste of money, a waste of time and just lame as hell.

txjump says:


I’m with ya!

hopefully it will never come to this…omg! cause then companies will start charging extra for a “non-commercial” ringback.

companies trying to make money off of me having friends or me having customers … when ive done all the work!?! hell no…and on top of that…what if they play a comercial for something i dont like or am opposed to!

what if someone associates me with that product?

hahaha…my mom calls and hears an ad for Trojan. or my new boyfriend hears an ad for preparationH… or my dad hears the one for “have a happy period”

ugh i dont even wanna think about it…

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