Astral Media has come up with a new way to print money by preying on clueless teenagers satisfy the growing needs of the population when it comes to pimping their cellphones, and has opened a “mobile boutique” called 61215.ca, a number guaranteed to be incorrectly remembered within seconds of seeing it. For “only” $6 a month, you can make three “downloads” of either ringtones (those 30-second song snippets people replace the sound of a ringing phone with to sound cool) or wallpapers (images of scantily-clad women that you’ll rarely see because you never stare at your cellphone except to do something that will cover them up).
For you non-math wizards out there, three downloads at $6 a month works out to $2 per download. That’s $2 per 30-second song excerpt or tiny stock photo. If you want to buy them individually, it’s $3.50 per ringtone and $2 per image.
So allow me.
If I go to the Dell Music Store, I can buy 10 songs for $7.99, or $0.80 per song. The iTunes Music Store sells most its songs for $0.99, and the most popular ones for $1.29. This is for a song I can download, play on my computer, download to my portable media player and otherwise do what I want with (for my own personal use), including transfer to my cellphone and use it as a ringtone. Astral, on the other hand, wants to charge 270% of this amount for an excerpt of a song that I’ll only be able to use on one device.
Does that not sound stupid to anyone else?
And then there’s the wallpapers. Images are much easier to produce than music, and they’re much easier to get hold of. Why should I have to pay $2 for a picture of Garfield when I can get Garfield wallpaper for free from the cartoon’s website?
It’s astonishing how the mobile industry has been able to get people to pay sky-high prices for things they can get for cheap or even free. I’m not quite sure why this is, but I suspect the fact that the cost is simply added to the monthly cellphone bill (a bill paid by parents in many cases) has something to do with it. Newspapers should take note of this ingenious way to con people out of money.
I only have one ringtone on my cellphone (I have frequent callers tied to letters played through Morse Code so I know who they are). I downloaded the song to my cellphone from my computer (after editing it) and it cost me exactly $0.
Perhaps I’m missing something. But the only thing more ridiculous than the money Astral expects us to shell out for this stuff is the fact that many people will do exactly that.