U.S. News

The Next Big Thing in Ringtones

By Linda R. Sittenfeld

Remember when only a few people had a cellphone? Then everyone did? Now some people have personalized ringtones. Soon, everyone could have a Vringo, a personalized video ringtone.

John Medved, CEO of Vringo, explains:

What is Vringo?

Vringo is a way for you and your friends to share videos over your cellphone. It's a buddy system that enables you to share pictures of your life, like a baseball game moment, a school play, or a birthday party. You can also use it with your business colleagues or your family. But don't send that too-edgy clip to your mom! Video ringtones make your phone come to life, whenever your friend calls you or you call them.

Vringo is not just the fun thing that happens between individuals calling each other. This is mobile social networking around the sharing of video ringtones. In a couple of years everyone will have a video ringtone. And everyone will want to share them.

How's business?

Motorola Razr

We are privately held, venture backed. Just got $12 million from Warburg Pincus. We're signing deals with content providers like Universal Music. We've now got it working on most of the major platforms, Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola. Soon on Blackberry. We're doing tests with providers but we don't necessarily need to be tied to a provider

We're in the early days yet, changing consumer behavior. We have 35 employees. Doing research and development in Israel. NYC is our headquarters.

How much does it cost the user?

It's free. If you download a video instead of create it yourself you might have to pay for that. But the Vringo Service is free.

So how do you make money?

We're just testing now. But when we launch, there will be a paid or premium plan with access to more video clips. We're also exploring advertising options.

But this is something everyone can easily understand. Not like fiber optics or chips. And everyone can understand this will be big. We're hoping that Vringo will become a brand name like Xerox.