Video Ring Tones are Here

By: Kevin Cantera

Welcome to the new era in cell phone ring tones, an age that allows users to go way beyond the simple downloaded song clip, way past the personalized jingle, and even further than the most customized ditty. Welcome to the video ring tone.

The standard ring tones are no longer good enough. The craze commenced when wireless phone makers began making devices that could play ring tones, digital tunes that replaced a normal ding-ding of a ringer. At first, ring tones were nothing more than rudimentary beeps and blips that knocked out tunes when a call arrived. But cell phones speedily advanced to contain speakers capable of correctly replicating entire songs with little loss in quality. Soon broadband networks from the major carriers made it possible to download pieces of actual songs for use as ring tones. US sales of ring tones reached $500 million in 2005, and were estimated to reach as high as $779 million in 2007, according to Broadcast Music Inc. Competition among the major wireless providers has pushed the growth of the ring tone industry, as the providers look for ways to differentiate their ring tone offerings, as well as the technology to play even more, higher quality clips.

But that was then, and this is now. Wireless companies have begun building networks designed to offer all kinds of multimedia beyond the simple audio clip. Providers can deliver multimedia content to phones, and now see a strong potential for video ring tones. Vringo Inc. has pioneered the technology, as well as the user-to-user service, that allows people to receive phone calls that do way more than ding-a-ling-a-ling. When a Vringo user gets a call, they get to see a short video clip chosen by the caller. Licensed film clips are available, with a list that is continually growing, and users can also upload their own video. What's more, Vringos can be sent to friends who users place on a buddy list, so you don't have unsolicited ads appearing on your phone out of the ever-growing SPAM world.

Vringo offers sports clips, cartoons, music videos, personalized videos, and a number of other short videos. It can be set up so that your call shows the animation of your choice when it rings on your buddy's phone. The Vringo application is free of charge, and a snap to install. For a lot of the video content that is licensed, users are required to pay a fee. But Jonathan Medved, the CEO of Vringo, promises that the company is working to bring licensing costs down wherever possible.

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