April 28, 2006

Tone Deaf VoIP

Beginning of this week, there were reports that Skype has reached an agreement with EMI to sell music. Indeed some even suggested that Skype will be a worthy competitor to Apple’s iTunes business. After a couple of days of such speculative analysis, the official word came out: the partnership will not be selling full length tracks, but just ring-tone downloads. Oh what a disappointment – not because Skype will not be retailing full tracks.

On the lighter side, it is disappointing because the blogosphere missed an opportunity to spin a yarn about how the founders can now smooth over their riff with the music industry and that they can personally attend trade shows in US. Oh well.

More seriously now, it is disappointing that many who otherwise advocate and celebrate “intelligence at the end” do not see the irony of ring-tones costing 20% more than the full track. After all, iTune charges about $1, but Skype charges $1.20 for a ring-tone. “Intelligence at the end” suggests that one must be able to use any sound file available at the end as a ring-tone. In other words, $1 iTune can be used as a ring-tone. So why pay extra? I say that for “intelligence at the end” to work beneficially, the “End” has to be intelligent.

There is another rage in the mobile phone industry that goes by the name ringback-tone. To subscribe to this service, a mobile user pays a monthly fee so that callers to this subscriber can hear pre-selected tune instead of the standard ringback tone. I am expecting that this service will jump to VoIP service as well. After all VoIP just mimics PSTN.

Posted by aswath at April 28, 2006 07:40 AM
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