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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Richard Ahlquist, 17 Nov 2006 @ 9:31am

    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 ( http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1388866 )

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2006 @ 9:38am

    My ringback is the busy signal.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2006 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    Mine is the "This number is no longer in service" jingle

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2006 @ 10:00am

    My ringback is a telemarketing survey...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous, 17 Nov 2006 @ 10:25am

    Mine is a dialup modem sound

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    joe, 17 Nov 2006 @ 10:27am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Klim, 17 Nov 2006 @ 10:38am

    it's one of them one-hit cool stuff that gets annoying the second time around. well, kudos! to you has it. let's just hope you don't victimize yourself by annoying one potentially important phonecall. too much style=useless.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2006 @ 10:45am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Rick, 17 Nov 2006 @ 11:12am

    The day they start advertising to the people who call me in a 'ringback' is the day I stop paying my phone bill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    James, 17 Nov 2006 @ 11:17am

    This is attempting to build a market..

    ..where no such market exists. This, like paying for (regular) ringtones, is completely assinine and a waste of $$.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Maloop, 17 Nov 2006 @ 11:22am

    Idiot proof.

    If I ever reach someone that is using one of these ringbacks I just hang up and never call them again. I figure they're too stupid to talk to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Luc Boardwalk, 17 Nov 2006 @ 11:26am

    I know! I know!

    Mine will be a recording of me talking over the sound of a ringing phone..."I hope it's not...oh crap, it is. Just let it ring..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    txjump, 17 Nov 2006 @ 12:21pm

    #8

    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2006 @ 12:55pm

    mine's me saying "oh crap, i picked it up... HOLD ON I'M DRIVING THROUGH A TUNNEL. *click*"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2006 @ 1:34pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Professor E!, 17 Nov 2006 @ 2:49pm

    How's about this: Taco Bell pays ME to have my callers hear "Yo quiero Taco Bell" while waiting for me to pick up. they get targeted advertising (my friends dig tacos, etc.) and I get a lower phone bill.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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