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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  1. identicon
    James Quintana Pearce, 17 Nov 2006 @ 8:54am

    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?

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