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Last decade was 10 years of annoying ringtones, and I for one am glad to see the end of it. The nostril flaring anger peaked around 2005 when ‘Crazy Frog’ and his beats of mindless drivel swept through people’s pockets. ARGH! Thankfully, that’s almost at an end. More an more users, like myself, are happy enough to leave their phones on whatever default melody it came with – and the latest ones on the iPhone or HTC are “nice” enough to sound normal and almost pleasantly interruptible.

People have become more focused on spending money on applications for phones, rather than a tune for them. With a huge diversity in both the Android and more obviously iPhone market, it’s clear that people’s money is better spent on a 99c game that offers hours of fun rather than 99c for 10 seconds of audio when your friend calls.

I don’t normally pick-up in-flight magazines, but Continental Airlines have in seat monitors to watch movies that are smaller than my thumbnail, and with a dead laptop battery (my ASUS S101 made a valiant effort for a few hours of video on its 3-cell) and a few hours more ahead of me I needed something to pass the time. Naturally, I flicked past the adverts for expensive duty-free and headed straight to the tech section, where I read about one company trying to “reinvent” the ringtone to make it “social”.

Vringo, the company behind this heavily “web two point zero”-ized future of cell phone use has been around a few years already, and claims its company “makes it possible to update your friends on how you’re feeling and give your call context.” Basically – you issue your friends with the ring tone you want them to hear.

That’s not only open to abuse from mischievous people you know who could send all sorts to your phone whenever they felt like during that important meeting or hot date for example – but also people predominantly choose the sound their phone makes so they know it’s their phone. If you have a special song for your loved one, it’s because you (both) chose it to play, to remind you of them, when they call. What if I hate my friends choice of music? It’s certainly possible, if not likely, and the last thing I want is my very personal mobile product – one that defines me – pumping out the latest beats from some “underground DJ” I’ve never heard of. Urgh!

The bigger picture is that ringtones are simply not chic any more either. They are often crass, impolite and don’t enable anything beyond the basic, and our phones – our mobile computers – do more than that; messages, address’, email, calendar, photos, true social networking, internet, maps, GPS, gaming… a lot of gaming, movie watching, music playing and whatever else you can need and find from the hundreds of thousands of apps in the online stores. The change has already happened and we will only get more connected in the next ten years, but in more evolved ways other than the staple ringtone.

Let’s face it, ringtones are just old hat now, it’s the apps that matter.

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