Opinion: Singtones proves ‘Different’ doesn’t always mean ‘good’ when it comes to mobile apps

September 24, 2007 at 12:27 pm 2 comments

We were struck by what seemed a very odd statement today from the management of Singtones, a service that enables users to produce their own karaoke ringtones. It claimed a) that Apple‘s imminent entry into the ringtone market is not a threat, and b) that people are desperate to hear themselves, their friends or their relatives singing at them every time their phone rings. Maybe it’s just us and – as always – we are ready to be proved wrong, but both the service and the statement sound like they come from the, “So busy worrying whether we could, we didn’t stop to think about whether we should” school of business.

Singtones enables users to record their own versions of their favorite tracks and then cleans them up and adds a backing track to make them sound as good as possible. The finished article can then be distributed to the user’s own phone and those of his or her friends. There is a currently a choice of 16 backing tracks on the website, each costing £1.50, which makes them around half the price of a popular ringtone from more established players.

So far so good. It’s a neat(ish) twist on the existing ringtone market, and the price suits the financially challenged youth market at which it is presumably targeted. However, we have reservations about this service that are pretty fundamental to the success of the business, and that relate directly to the comments made by company management this week. Specifically, Singtones responded to the imminent arrival of the Apple juggernaut on the mobile ringtones scene by claiming that, “Apple can’t compete with Singtones, because everything we deliver is totally unique. More importantly, people love hearing their friends or family sing to them when they call.” Sorry, but we beg to differ.

Firstly, the idea that Apple couldn’t deliver a similar service very rapidly if it felt the need, is clearly ridiculous. Secondly, for Apple it would almost certainly be more a question of not wanting to compete, rather than not being able to. Singtones’ management must know very different people from us, because we think the novelty of listening to a friend or relative singing at us every time our phone rings would wear off in about 5 seconds. Finally, Apple’s new ringtone service, which lets users sample segments of a song performed by the original artist, costs even less than a Singtones track. We could be missing something here, but we don’t think so.

Hamish M.
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Entry filed under: apple ringtones, mobile content, ringtones, singtones.

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2 Comments

  • 1. jay  |  September 25, 2007 at 9:22 am

    Singtones is a lame idea, especially given its pricing. Particularly when you can use new ringtone making services like the ToneBee online MP3 ringtone maker in which you can create a ringtone from any MP3 you own. If you want to make a singing tone then can use the Free Google Talk client application to create a voicemail of you singing which get’s turned into an MP3 > download this then cut it into a ringtone using ToneBee.

    Easy.

  • 2. Michelle Huet  |  September 25, 2007 at 3:24 pm

    i’m gob smacked at the lack of appreciation of what a singtone is. Try a bit of research before questionning the business model. Of course apple could go chasing every single business opportunity but guess what – they’ve only been into the mobile phone market for a few months! Maybe they should

    I’ll give you an idea of a scenario where this is a no brainer:

    Most people know little girls who endlessly want to sing along to their favorite artist eg. SpiceGirls, Girls Aloud etc

    They also are the same audience as the ringtone generation (many of whom actually buy many of their ringtones with their parents phones)

    Now Singtones comes along and enables little girl the opportunity to professionally master her voice singing along to her favorite tune. It also lets her send it to her dad, brother, uncle, grandad, granmother, babysitter etc.

    The value of this ringtone to the grandad is unquestionnably higher than the latest release from “Kanye West” and what’s more hes probably going to use a paid for ringtone for the first time ever.

    On another note – little miss content creator is probably going to love her new found creator status and make a better one every few weeks.

    Although it may not be obvious – this is what makes Singtone a real VAS.

    The application of technology to enhance the quality of user generated content is one of most important things that needs to happen to enable user generated content sell in the mobile content environment. The premium costs mean the free consumption of rubbish (eg. most of the content posted on YouTube) won’t be supported by a profitable business model.


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