Ringtone Market: While Still Showing Signs of Life, Moving Increasingly Towards Free and Greater Levels of Personalization

The early mobile content market darling, the ringtone, has hit maturity, and the (paid) market is widely expected to decline over the coming years. While the market is still showing some signs of life (think Zed’s announcement today that it is closing in on 100 million ringtone downloads), the future market will increasingly be free, innovative and leverage social media/networks (think yesterday’s WeMix.Com, and PhoneZoo.Com distribution partnership for UGC and indie mobile content).

Consumers have already discovered free content (ad support, sponsorships, free sites) or software that lets you cut your own ringtones, arguably not all that easy. I can only hope that it will get easier for consumers to discover, personalize and get their own digital content onto their phones, as we know that workarounds haven’t been easy. For those mobile content aggregators continuing to bet on the paid market for ringtones (and in this economy), I would consider adjusting their business models accordingly. Better yet, they need to extend and diversifying their mobile content catalogues beyond the ringtone.

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