Phonezoo is a new Silicon Valley start-up that makes downloading ringtones a fun activity, even for us at VentureBeat who have so far snubbed the trend.
Phonezoo, of Sunnyvale, has been in testing mode until now, but today launched publicly. We’ve tried it. You go through an easy registration process, where you list your phone, so Phonezoo knows how to best transcode ringtones for your particular phone.
Once enter the Phonezoo site, you can explore ringtones that other members have created and submitted to the site. You can see the most recent ringtones or top-rated ones, and rate them yourself. Each ringtone is titled with the name of songs if playz (see partial screenshot below). You find “Clocks” from ColdPlay, for example, and download it.
The great part, it’s free. Other services charge an average of $2.50 per ringtone and limit options to audio prepackaged segments, sold typically by wireless carriers.
But there’s one more step before you can download “Clocks.” Phonezoo puts a green button beside the ringtones ready for download immediately. It puts an orange button next to copyrighted songs, such as “Clocks.” Selecting the Clocks ringtone prompts you to upload the music file from your desktop or other drive — thus ensuring you have rights to it. Once you upload it, Phonezoo automatically scans it and pulls the relevant snippet to match the ringtone you’ve chosen.
It doesn’t stop there. Phonezoo gives you a way to edit the ringtone. It gives you a cool graphic to show which part of the full song you’ve got as your ringtone (see image below). If the “Clocks” ringtone you’ve chosen is defaulted to begins at eight seconds into the song, you move sliders on the graphic to change it so that it starts at the beginning. Moreover, you can change how long the snippet plays, say from ten seconds to 20 seconds.
Phonezoo plans to make money down the line, it says, by inserting advertising that is relevant to the songs you’re looking at — or profiling sponsored content. Phonezoo has a person’s phone data, and so knows where members are located, and thus serve locally relevant concern information, for example. It will let users buy full songs related to the ringtones they’ve selected, and Phonezoo will take a cut in the process — say five cents from an overall price of 45 cents. Phonezoo wants to move into video, chief executive Ram Ramkumar told VentureBeat. It’s also building a way for users to place a widget on MySpace, listing their ringtones, he said.
The company says 69 percent of ringtones are downloaded by women. So the company’s target customer is a 20-year-old college female student, who has more than 100 friends in MySpace and/or Facebook listed in their phones and IM buddy lists.
The U.S. ringtone market is expected to exceed $600 million in sales this year, up from $500 million last year,” according to BMI, a performing rights organization. There’s a plethora of players in the ringtones market, but none that offer a community service for free, Phonezoo’s Ramkumar says.
The company has raised an angel round of $560,000, led by venture capitalist Tim Draper, who invested $300,000 of that. It is now looking to raise $5 million.
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