Ringtone Market Now Worth Frightening US$2.5 billion; WAP Use Doubles, But Still Rubbish

Research groups are estimating that the worldwide ringtone market is now worth at least US$2.5 billion (€2 billion), with some groups claiming that it’s nearer US$3.5 billion (€2.85 billion).

The US market makes up just a tiny proportion of the US$2.5 billion figure, accounting for just US$140 million (€114 million) of ringtone sales – the bulk of the market is in Europe and Asia.

Like text messaging, ringtones are another completely unexpected mobile phone success story – ten years ago, mobile networks thought they’d be making their money from obvious things like phone calls.

Perhaps those guys in the panda outfits weren’t so daft after all.

WAP, however, was an unexpected failure – adoption of the difficult to use, worse to implement internet browsing protocol has been extremely slow. Slow to the point that it will soon be bypassed by traditional internet access on phones. Like teletext but slower and less interesting, figures from the Mobile Data Association indicate that 1.11 billion WAP pages were viewed during June 2004, up from 784 million in June 2003. The MDA estimate that the year total will be 13 billion for the year.

Mobile Data Association

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?