The days of just listening to ringtones could well be numbered, as in the latest avatar one can -- besides hearing -- also see the tone's video.
Welcome to video ringtones! Customers can now view the latest video with original music in lieu of ringtones and what more, the quality too is good. And the people involved in this new application are already excited.
"The very fact that many handset manufacturers and service providers have already latched on to the idea is a proof that the application is a success. Market response suggests that polytones are being considered outdated amongst the early adapters while true tones and videotones will be the new big trend in coming days," says Bibhu Kumar, vice president (marketing), IMImobile, a value added services provider.
Roughly 20 per cent of mobile phone users form the category of early adapters and this largely comprises the youth.
Music is the main staple when it comes to applications like ringtones and the market is registering a three-digit growth.
Amongst the value-added services in India that are estimated to be around $125 million constituting 20 per cent of revenues of mobile operators, ringtones form the largest segment.
"Over the next four years we expect close to 60 per cent of the new 100 million handsets that get added in India will be high end and support video ringtones and with faster wireless networks, we expect video ringtones to form as high as 50-70 per cent of the ringtone category," says Arun Gupta, COO, Mauj.com, a leading mobile content provider.
But why would people be interested in seeing their mobile play a video ringtone when they know that there is somebody waiting on the other side?
"This is exactly the same situation as with any other ringtone like poly or true. Look at the example of a country like Japan where a similar service called 'Chaku Motion' has been available for a year, video ringtones form 70 per cent of the total ringtone market there" asserts Gupta.
According to Gupta, on handsets where consumers have a choice between video ringtones and poly, as high as 30 per cent of the consumers already prefer video ringtones.
Currently, video ringtones are available only on Symbian operating system supported sets. Nokia, the handset market leader, whose S60 series are compatible, has been the first to take off the blocks with it bundling videotones with its new sets.
Nokia is also offering videotone downloads through SMS. "Videotones add another dimension to ringtones and will further enrich the consumer's mobile experience. We anticipate huge popularity for this service going forward," says Raju Shastry, technology marketing manager, Nokia.
Symbian handsets are also expected soon from vendors like Samsung and Motorola.
Service operators have not been far behind. BSNL is offering a video ringtone for Rs 20. A Mauj video ringtone costs between Rs 20 and Rs 30.
And which are the tones that are selling like hot cakes? "The video categories which are moving fastest are Bollywood and international pop albums," says Kumar, while according to Gupta it is the original animations with original non-film based music that are doing well.
So next time you see somebody staring at the mobile, instead of answering it while it plays the latest item number, you know, that person is perhaps watching its video.