Telecom operator Aircel has launched ‘Dialer Tune – Song Edit’, a caller tune service which allows users to select which portion of a song they would like to use as their caller tune. Makes sense: given a choice, I would prefer that my caller tune begin with my favorite guitar riff from a song, than from where the telecom operator wants it to. The functionality is powered by ‘Make My Tunes’, a service from mobile VAS company IMI Mobile*, but we’re not sure if this is really the ‘paradigm shift’ they’re saying it will be: how many people would really be willing to listen to a song and make a selection, given how difficult it is – at least with Airtel – to even find and select songs. I think there needs to be a web or a mobile web component to this service as well – something like a trackbar which make it easer for me to edit the song. What I do like, though, is that the same song can be downloaded as a ringtone: this might help telco’s monetize ringtones, which have otherwise shifted to the grey market. A few points to note:

– Web app? Lets take a hypothetical situation, wherein Aircel launched a ringbacktone editing app on Facebook: would that be viewed as music on demand on the web, since you could use it to play all the music you want to play?

– Mixing: If you’re allowing editing, how about mixing segments from multiple songs? I know it will be painful to do this on IVR, but since we’re looking at hypothetical situations, and say a web app, how would the licensing and payouts work users could mix their own songs? After all, Caller Tunes are all about showing off, and there might be those who want to mix their own caller tune.

Recently, Reliance Communications launched user generated caller tunes, and we’re increasingly seeing more innovations. We’re not sure if this is in order to attract new users into the fold, encourage changing of caller tunes (which generates revenue) or just a means of arresting a decline in usage. Caller Tunes account for much of the non-SMS VAS, alongwith Mobile Radio/Music On Demand, and we’ve unfortunately not seen many other products really take off. Perhaps VAS companies need to take another look at product development, and also not put all their eggs in the 3G basket.

Disclosure: IMI Mobile is an advertiser with MediaNama

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