Dodgy sales techniques, piracy and full-track downloads are all being blamed as the bottom falls out of the ringtone market. Research by MusicAlly tracks UK ringtone sales growing from £34.8 million in 2000 to £177.3 in 2005, but predicts that will fall to £143.5 million this year and £78.8 million by 2007.
It's quite understandable though: the kids don't see the point in paying £3.50 for a tinny 10-second ringtone interpretation of a new song when they can often copy the full MP3 onto their phone and set that as their ringtone. That's not always done legally though - this piece says younger phone users are using their phones to record music on their computers or are Bluetoothing tracks from friends. There's also software floating online that converts MP3s to ringtones.
Misleading sales subscriptions are also a factor because users often don't trust ringtone services.
M:Metrics data for Europe shows a 42 percent drop in sales, part of what senior analyst Paul Goode described as a significant shift for the ringtone market: "As mastertones supersede polyphonic tones, and short codes gain steam as a merchandising vehicle, the economics of the business will have to change. The availability of tools to make user-created ringtones more accessible to the masses poses an even greater threat to companies who can offer no additional value to a consumer who buys a ringtone in lieu of making one themselves."