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Popular in those days: where are our cell phones ringing?

I used to think it was all money fraud & hellip;

In that era, it was a very exquisite and decent thing to spend 1-2 yuan on the next song you like and then set it as the ring tone of your mobile phone.

However, in the period when mobile phones were just launched, the matching ringtones were far less abundant, and they were basically inflexible electronic tones.

As early as the early 1990s, Motorola's and Nokia's mobile phones can only emit "beep" without any melody. The difference is only in the high and low pitch or rhythm. In 1996, the digital mova n103 hyper flip phone launched by NTT DoCoMo, a Japanese telecom operator, tried to build in some MIDI format songs, making it the world's first mobile device with customized ringing tones. The digital minimo d319, which appeared a year later, allows users to make their own special ringing tones by using the preset polyphonic sound of the system. At that time, there was a book called "the book of mobile phone ringing" which provided a special tutorial and sold 3.5 million copies.

This also makes people see the commercial potential of cell phone ring tone. In 1998, a Finnish programmer named vesku Matti paananen, based on the information transfer protocol developed by Nokia, found that it can also send simple MIDI music files to another mobile phone. He sold the idea to radiolinja, the Finnish telecom operator at that time, who then launched a service called harmony, which allows users to get some mono music with simple rhythm through SMS; two years later, the predecessor of Softbank, Tokyo digital phone, also launched a similar service in Japan.

This also announces the arrival of the era of personalized ring tones, which is like an invisible logo, hidden in every user's mobile phone.

In the 21st century, mobile phone ring tone has experienced two stages of development, but also gave birth to the early music consumption. ▲ Nokia 3510 is the first Nokia phone to support polyphonic ringing tones

One is the arrival of a polyphonic ring. In short, this is a music form that allows users to hear a variety of musical instruments, and the sound level will be more three-dimensional. In the first two years of the 21st century, brands including Sony Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung have launched phones that support polyphonic ringing tones.

In 2002, the Beijing Morning Post once reported that at that time, the trend of polyphonic ring tones had swept the mobile phone market of South Korea and Japan, and gradually affected the fashionable young people in China. At that time, Motorola v680 also sold well because it was equipped with 16 polyphonic ring tones. ▲ picture from: People's daily

Later, with the rapid popularization of MP3 devices, mobile phone ringtones gradually changed from chord form to original music pieces, with a length of about 30 seconds, which is called "truetone" in the industry.

It can be seen that in 2003, CSL, the Hong Kong Telecom Operator, launched the "original ringtone" service, which allows users to directly select the popular singer works at that time as their own ringtones. ▲ picture from: CSL

Record companies are also developing rapidly with the arrival of the era of "original ringtones". They can sell specific music content directly to operators or users without the help of middlemen (such as ringtone production companies or agent service providers), so that musicians can get more royalties.

In fact, it has also proved that an excellent mobile phone ring tone is essentially a kind of pop music. It tests how the producer can extract the most representative and attractive tens of seconds from a two or three minute song, and listen to it for a hundred times without tiredness and for a long time. Richard Conlon, vice president of broadcast music, a music rights company, said that the reason why mobile ring tones can cause a boom is that it has been popularized earlier than MP3, and it is the first audio content that many people have come into contact with.

What's more, the mobile phone of that era was more used as a portable communication tool. Its main function was to make a phone call and send a message. The ring tone was already a small number, which could make your device different from other people's parts.

At that time, when recording companies counted the sales data, they also found that the download volume of some popular ringtones even exceeded that of the original music, because ringtones are often displayed in various occasions and can be heard by more people. For example, in 2004, the ring tone named "crazy frog" was gradually spread in the UK, and it took only one week to become the number one record seller in the UK. This is the first time in history that the ring tone of mobile phone won the top and bottom of the record list.

In the same year, with tens of millions of ringtone users in China, those record companies that were squeezed by the piracy environment and didn't expect to make money by selling physical records began to consciously choose to cooperate with operators like China Mobile.

During this period, a lot of popular models were born, such as the RBT made by Dao Lang's the first snow in 2002. In half a year, more than 2.5 million clicks and downloads were made, generating more than 5 million yuan in revenue. ▲ ring sending service of cool dog music

"CRBT business model is simple, does not need channels, and can rapidly expand the revenue source of record companies. "Song Ke, general manager of the record company Taihe rye, said in an interview in 2006.

In his opinion, being a digital music content provider and sharing with SP and operators was the latest, fastest and best profit-making means for China's record industry at that time. Regardless of the business level, a ring tone has more influence than many people think. Nokia tune is the most representative example.

A few years ago, audiobrain, a music company based in New York, conducted a survey, which allowed people to identify specific music sources according to the currently playing melody, including Intel's "lights, lights and other lights" and HBO's white noise.

▲ previous versions of Nokia tune ringing tones

The result shows that only one tune can be recognized immediately by everyone, that is, Nokia's ring tone. Now it has become the most frequently played music in history, and it is built into most Nokia mobile phones. The government has also launched eight other improved versions of different voice colors.

However, just like most of the services that have been brilliant, but will eventually usher in a recession, the mobile ring tone gradually loses its loyal users in the whole wave of technological progress. The "ringtones" curve represents the cell phone ring tone

According to the sales data of the recording industry association of the United States, the sales volume of ringtones in 2007 once exceeded $1 billion, but by 2017, it was only $34.2 million, almost 97% lower.

With the arrival of the era of smart phones represented by the iPhone, people's consumption habits of audio content began to change, leading to the cold winter of ringtones and RBT services.

IBISWorld, a US market research organization, said that early ring tones can only be purchased by SMS, and the cost of a song is often as high as $5. But iTunes and Amazon's are changing the way people buy and use music (and now streaming media), and most people can buy a complete song for less than $1.

In addition, more and more mobile storage space and real-time network connection services also allow users to store hundreds of songs at the same time, rather than the last 30 second ringtone version. However, even if people are willing to pay for the whole song, they will not set their own ring tone as before.

"Default ringtone" has become the first choice of consumers again. It has always been the ringtone when the mobile phone is bought back. It seems that there is no need to change it.

To some extent, the increase of functions and services - mainly the development of smart phones - has led to the decline of the inner status of ringtones.

Especially when smart phones bring videos, games and countless mobile Internet services that can only be experienced on PCs to everyone, people will no longer need to rely on "ringtones" to show the personalized elements, and "ringtone customization" itself can no longer bring enough attraction to users.

We even use the phone less often. More often, the ring tone will be replaced by a "buzz" Notification tone. Ringing tones also have a connection with psychological emotions. Many people feel anxious when they hear the phone ring, which is often called "telephone phobia". For them, they are more willing to set the silent vibration state of the mobile phone which is not easy to be disturbed for a long time.

After all, in the era of the machine, even if there is no ring tone, most people can rely on the breath screen display, breathing lights and simple vibration to receive reminders.

At the same time, it's no longer a trend to display your music ringtone in public, but it's more like an impolite behavior. The vibration mode can cover up this embarrassment well, and it's also a place where "silence is better than sound". Nevertheless, the ring tone of mobile phone has never been far away from us. Today, when you walk through subway cars, pedestrian corridors, or take a rest in a coffee shop, you will still occasionally hear familiar melodies, such as the two default ringtones of iPhone, "marimba" and "reflection", and there will always be a circle of people around you who habitually put their hands into their pockets.