updated 11:55 am EDT, Fri August 31, 2007
Apple to offer ringtones
Apple and the major music labels are preparing to sell customizable ringtones to iPhone customers via the iTunes Store, according to a report from the New York Post. Apple will likely announce the new service when it unveils new iPods, and that could be as early as next Friday. Apple is currently working with record labels to ink a deal that would allow users to turn almost any song sold through its iTunes Store into a ringtone for a fee. Specific pricing remains unknown, but current carriers typically charge between $1.99 and $2.49 for each ringtone. Apple will allow users to convert songs already purchased from the iTunes Store into ringtones, and iPhone users will be able to select any part of a chosen song to serve as the ringtone. That option contrasts with current ringtone deals from carriers like Sprint and Verizon that only offer pre-determined song samples. Most major music labels are working with Apple to offer ringtones, but Universal Music Group reportedly refused Apple's offer.
Apple is also planning to offer traditional ringtones for users who are uninterested in custom tones, according to the report. The ringtone business raked in more than $600 million last year alone in the U.S., while worldwide ringtones pulled in $3.5 billion.
The Cupertino-based company recently confirmed that it will host a special event on September 5th, and curiously issued a media invite with a tagline that matches a famous press release issued just after the Beetles broke up in 1970. That tagline, coupled with the recent additions of three Beatle solo works to the iTunes Store, lead industry watchers to speculate that the Beetles catalog could make its debut in a digital format for the very first time via the iTunes Store.
Experts expect Apple's ringtones to work exclusively with its recently launched iPhone handset.