C|Net is carrying a story about cell phone ring tone markets, and the Napster-ish implications (Read C|net's story).
I'm amazed how something so tenuos and slight as a cell phone ring tone can be considered a big enough market to be persued for royalties from a group like ASCAP. I realize that sort of thing is ASCAP's business (I think ASCAP should do their job).
The thing that really kills me is that downloading a song to your phone is something that people will pay for, and in some cases, pay $10 for. If enougb people do that, and become repeat customers, then you have a market worth looking at. C|net notes that Nokia says they'll be making billions off of this service and that "More than $300 million in ring tones were sold in Japan last year." This is big enough money for ASCAP to notice, and I think they should persue their royalty rights.
Now, the last time I bought a phone (a tiny Samsung PCS phone) I looked at features, size and battery life, but not ring tones. Then, I saw a commercial last night where one of the few features mentioned for a cell phone was the custom ring tone capability. I have no clue what the company was, because that feature is not a compelling feature to me, but I guess it is to the Japanese.
Maybe Iridium didn't make because they didn't offer custom ring tones. :^/