How To Fix The Annoying Ringtone Problem

By | May 22, 2005

Ringtones. The day of the fancy, polyphonic, clip-from-your-favorite-song-or-theme-tune ringtone is here. Especially in North Asia, it seems. And it’s annoying. It’s like hearing someone turning on a radio full-blast and then turning it off, and jabbering instead. Either you’re just beginning to get into the music, or recognise it, and it’s off. I thought I would never say this, but I miss the inane, twee, monophonic warbles of the old cellphone. At least you knew it was a phone, and what the tune was. Is there nothing better?

You could argue that everyone having their personalized call sign is good, because they know it’s their phone. No longer do you have people grabbing at bags, pockets or private parts thinking the phone ringing is theirs. Unless, of course, everyone just loves the same song so much they all choose it as their ringtone.

But all this does is shift the problem from getting your peace and quiet shattered by inane monophonic warble to getting it shattered by two bars of inane pop tune. It doesn’t seem to actually help any of us excise the intrusion that is the cellphone ringing in public. We’re still looking, in my view, for a way for people to know their phone is ringing without everyone else hearing about it.

My solution is simple, and probably not very original. But I haven’t read it anywhere else, so until someone points me there, I’ll assume this is My Own Idea. When people buy their phone, they record their own voice saying ‘hi, this is Joey. Leave a message’ for the voicemail. Then Joey hands it over to his mother/father/foster parent or other significant elder in the family and has them call out “Joey!’ at a reasonable volume. That recording becomes Joey’s ringtone.

The point? Joey’s always going to recognise his ma’s voice, across the room, across town, across continents. Mothers’ voices have that kind of quality. So he’s going to hear his phone ringing. But everyone else on the train? Unless they’re called Joey, it won’t register. If they are called Joey, it’s unlikely the voice is going to have quite the same impact. Simple. Joey will know his phone’s ringing. No one else is disturbed, because people are calling other people’s names all the time.

Ok, the business end of all this? Set up an online service that lets people record and store them saying their children’s/spouses/relatives’ names. Every time one of the folk involved buys a new phone, they can just synchronise it with the website and download the appropriate voice calling their name, even after Ma has passed onto that cellphone-free waiting room in the sky. Cellphone providers etc would jump at the advertising opportunities. is taken, but doesn’t seem to be yet. I’m onto it.

6 thoughts on “How To Fix The Annoying Ringtone Problem

  1. Tom Raftery

    Interesting Jeremy – my own ringtone? I recorded myself saying “Tom – your phone is ringing” last December when I bought my phone (Nokia 6230) as a bit of a joke. However, I liked at as a ringtone and haven’t gone back to any of the tunes now being sold as ringtones!

    It always gets my attention and isn’t nearly as distracting to others as some ringtones I have heard (e.g Crazy Frog).

  2. wicak

    that is so cool… i should try that. however, i’m not too comfortable having my name called out in public… i guess its just me.
    but what is a ‘reasonable volume’ ? an acquaintance of mine likes to talk loud, listen to loud music, and loud ring tones. he always uses a speakerphone when calling (letting everyone within earshot know of his business).

    his idea of a reasonable volume and mine differ quite vastly….

  3. shamus

    sprint pcs has a whole library of people saying things thay you can (pay to) download. a whole bunch of first names (though not shamus)…

    my favorite were the insults. stuff like “hey stupid, yeah, i’m talking to you…” i’d love to hear someone sporting that ringtone.

  4. Praveen

    I have got a virus in my new nokia 6230 mobile fone. I have instaled file manager program. but, i do not know how to enable the option to view the files in the system directory.

    could someone help me out with this?



  5. Suzi

    I have my kids saying “Mom.. Dad’s calling” as the ringtone for my husbands cell and when they call from the house phone it’s “Moooooooooom” like they do at home when they want something.
    I used to have one for my husband that said over and over again. “Your husbands calling”
    I’ve never actually paid for a ringtone though cuz I’m cheap


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