Apple and iPhone ringtones, ARGGGH!

This is really getting old fast! As I wrote yesterday, I was happy with the latest iPhone 1.1.1 update. Since I don’t have a hacked iPhone I was free to put the update one without fear of losing the ability to use the phone. However, what I wasn’t expecting (I don’t know why) was that Apple would once again wipe out my custom ringtones! Yep, Apple clearly wants to OWN and CONTROL adding ringtones to the iPhone.

 

I get it, ringtones are big business

I know, I know, ringtones are a potentially huge source of revenue. There are issues with the record labels wanting ANOTHER cut of the song you already bought because they view ringtones as a different use. I’m not going to argue this no matter how ridiculous I think it is because I won’t win. It defy’s all logic in my mind that if I can put a song on my iPhone and play the whole song through the built-in speakers that I would have to pay the full price of the song AGAIN just to hear a small portion of it on the same iPhone when the phone rings!

Although I don’t want to continue this losing argument I will give you some more food for thought as to why Apple’s approach doesn’t make sense to me: Let’s take the iPod for example. It’s an MP3 player and Apple sells music, videos, TV shows and movies through the iTunes store. However, if you never bought a single thing from iTunes, you would still be able to rip your own CDs and convert your own videos to a compatible format and put them on the iPod. Heck, iTunes evens facilitates this FREE of charge. Let’s say you’re a musician and you record your own music. You can even do so with Apple’s own Garageband software that comes with all new Macs and put that music on your iPod too. Because the iPod is so free in this respect, Apple has sold millions of units. Now imagine if Apple started selling iPods that ONLY allowed content from the iTunes store. How many iPods would they sell then? So if I can put my own music and movies and sounds on the iPod or the iPhone and Apple doesn’t care, why would they care about where the sound comes from that I hear when the phone rings? If I record myself saying "ring ring" (which I didn’t, I’m just making a point), clearly I have ALL RIGHTS to that sound and there is nothing in the technology that should stop me from making that sound my ringtone. As a matter of fact, I could do this with my Treo and I could with my RAZR without too much effort. Before yesterday, I could even do this with my iPhone thanks to the help of iToner. Yet, Apple seems hell bent on taking away this basic ability away in favor of their own very limited (only a very small fraction of songs available from iTunes are ringtonable. Only 500,000+ songs out of the over 6 million songs available) paid ringtone service. Under the current model let’s say you bought an Earth, Wind and Fire CD years ago and you ripped it into iTunes. Let’s say you wanted to make a ringtone out of “In The Stone”. You’d have to go to the iTunes store and buy the “In The Stone” track AGAIN. Then you’d have to spend another 99¢ to convert part of it to a ringtone. So technically you would have bought the song 3 times.

 

I’m not cheap…

It’s not a matter of the cost of a ringtone. In fact as far as ringtone businesses go, Apple’s is actually cheaper than the other guys (Sprint, Verizon, etc.). They’re even fairer in their approach in that you get the whole song, you get to pick which portion of the song that you want to use as the ringtone and the ringtone doesn’t expire after so many weeks/months of use. The problem is not price, it’s selection! Even if I wanted to give up this "cat and mouse game" and just say "screw it" and buy the 3 or 4 ringtones I wanted to use, none of the ones I want are available as ringtones on iTunes. If Apple had the songs or sounds that I wanted to use, it would actually be CHEAPER for me to just buy them from iTunes than paying the $15 for iToner. So it’s not the money.

Let’s say I was a musician and wanted to use my own music as a ringtone. The way it works now, I would first have to cut a deal with Apple and HOPE that they approved my music for sale on the iTunes store as an independent label (wish me luck, espcially if you’ve heard me sing). Then I would have to buy MY OWN track from them for 99¢ or 1.29¢ and then buy the right to convert it to a ringtone for an additonal 99¢ and it’s my own song!

Apple needs to abandon this monopolistic approach on the iPhone if they want to continue to build good will and continue to have loyal customers. If you build the best iPhone ringtone service, you’ll get your fair share of the business from those out there who buy ringtones. You don’t have to block every attempt from your CUSTOMERS to spin their own.

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  • Hear, hear! My thoughts exactly. Here’s hoping that Apple is listening to you cause they’re most likely not gonna listen to all the rest of us who’ve been chanting Braveheart’s mantra, “Freeeeeeeedom!” for the past few months!

    When Apple entered the cell market, they should have recognized the freedoms that we all hold dear. We want our cells to be as customizable as possible – not limited by a Big Brother approach.

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  • Terry, I installed the 1.1.1 updated yesterday, and have iToner, which I used to put Nina Simone’s “I put a spell on you” as my ringtone, and it came through the update unscathed and still works. I don’t know why, perhaps it’s because I paid for iToner, then set up a playlist within iTunes entitled “Ringtones”, into which I loaded six favorites from my CD collection. Do you have any idea why it still works?

  • terrywhite

    Hi Norm, the iToner ringtones will still be there and work until you actually go into the Ringtones list on the phone. Then they will disappear. So as long as you never go into the list you’ll be all set.

  • aayan

    i am ready to spend that extra 15$ for that itoner but again its not supported on windows operting system. i think there should be something that works on all operting systems

  • terrywhite

    Aayan, on Windows there was/is a very good app http://iphoneringtonemaker.com
    But I imagine that their app no longer works either.

  • anonymous

    I think you have a really good argument. You say you are making a loosing argument I have to disagree. I think you should sent it to apple. They’ve listened to you before, maybe they will again.

  • terrywhite

    thanks for the encouragement. I sent my thoughts to Apple. You can too:
    http://apple.com/feedback/

  • anonymous

    Alright peeps I found a way that’s so super easy and you can get a ringtone from any mp3 (haven’t tried anyother file types, but everyone has mp3’s) you need an internet/wi-fi connection for iPhone. Download winSCP link at bottom. once you have installed the program launch it. the host is your ip address (go to iphone, settings, wi-fi, click on choose your network) should now show your ip adress. login is: root password is: dottie. This will now sync via network your iphone and all it’s directories. click on library and find the ringtone folder, open it up and you should see a few pre-loaded mp3 ringers already!!!! no m4a required. I copied a sond onto my desktop, then dragged it onto the ringtone flolder under WinSCP. It will ask to copy, click yes and it’ll be in your ringtone folder! EASY AS PIE! post comments to make me feel good about this discovery…..enjoy! P.S. you can trim your mp3’s to say 30 seconds to save space before loading onto phone…. BTW i think apple wants m4a so that it shows up on itunes…i don’t care about that

    in winSCP go to root dir. then “private” then “var” then “root” then “library” and then you will see the “ringtones” folder…

    http://winscp.net/eng/download.php (click on installation package)

    Also this program is just a quick and easy way to access and transfer files between your computer and iphone. This program also however allows you directly into program files that your phone operates on, so one must not tinker with misc files the wrong way or phone will not operate normally. There are other things you can put on here also, background, themes, icons, etc….those files would be treated as preloaded software. The ringtones will not show up in itunes because they are not in m4a format. I presume. This program has nothing to do with itunes.

  • ernest

    Dude above, I can’t find any “Ringtones” directory under the “Library” directory you mentioned. I am using 1.1.1 what are you using bro?

  • Aaron C

    The GarageBand update lets you create custom ringtones from anything (songs, GarageBand compositions, sounds, etc.). Just drag in/create your future ringtone, then hit the “cycle region” button on the bottom (with the rest of the controls, to the right of fast forward). A bar slides down from the top of the timeline. Drag the beginning and end of the orange region to the beginning and end of your custom ringtone, and hit “Send Ringtone to iTunes” under “Share”. The ringtone will now sync to your iPhone the next time you connect it to your computer.

    Everyone’s probably found this out/discovered it by now (the last post was Nov. 2007), but just in case you haven’t , there you go. Now be a ringtone maestro!

  • Ed

    There’s still a few sites where you can actually download free iphone ringtones – like http://pianoringtones.net and
    http://www.outerspaceringtones.com