iTunes to Begin Offering Ringtones

Will allow users to convert almost any song into a ringtone for an additional fee.

I’ve talked before about how its interesting that amidst all the lamenting by the RIAA about declining CD sales revenue is the fact that ringtone sales are quietly rising by leaps and bounds every year.In fact, people bought over $9 billion USD worth of ringtones worldwide last year. That’s right, $9 billion USD! This is about a 41% increase over last year and is expected to hit about $32 billion USD by the year 2010.

In the US alone, revenue from ringtones was more than $600 million in 2006, up astronomically from a mere $68 million in 2003.

Now it’s being reported that Apple plans to jump into the ringtone market and begin allowing users to turn almost any song sold through iTunes into a ringtone for an additional fee. The exact price for the service is unclear so far, but may be comparable to the price differential between iTunes Plus and standard music tracks that cost $1.29USD and 99cents respectively.

Previously purchased tracks will also be able to be converted for a presumably nominal fee as well.

Interestingly enough, users will be able to customize what portion of a song will become a ringtone unlike other services in which the clip is predetermined.

With the recording industry looking for every possible way to make money and stay relevant this may become an essential and lucrative means of propping up its bottom line.

Though, to be fair, what I don’t understand is why people bother buying ringtones at all. Most cell phones allow the use of MP3s for ringtones these days instead of that polyphonic nonsense of the past. It’s beyond easy to clip what you want and then transfer it your phone. I mean if you buy a track is it really worth paying extra to have some "cut it up" for you?