The New York Post writes that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is going into the ringtone business with several music publishers, but as always Apple added its own unique take on it: Instead of the music being pre-packaged, "in a new twist, iPhone users will have the ability to choose any part of the song they want as their ringtone."
Last year, global sales of ringtones hit hit $3.5 billion according to London's ARC Group.
The Apple product will only work on the iPhone, and it will be some time before that is any meaningful portion of the one billion handsets sold each year. So Apple may be doing its competition a favor.
If Jobs & Co. have determined that consumers want to pick the part of the songs that they use on their handsets instead of segments of songs picked by the handset companies, it may open a completely new avenue for boosting revenue. The music labels are clearly not going to have an exclusive arrangement with Apple.
No one should be surprised if the new Nokia (NYSE: NOK) music download store begins to offer music under the new model. Large cellular providers like Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) and Verizon Wireless are likely to adopt it as well.
But, it was Apple's idea. For what that is worth.
Douglas A. McIntyre is a partner at 24/7 Wall St.