Your Ringtone, Your Identity

Washington Post: Whenever his cell phone rings, which is a lot, Delvon Murray, 18, hears "My Boo," the Alicia Keys-Usher duet. Whenever his girlfriend's cell phone rings, she hears "In Love Wit Chu" from hip-hop artist Da Brat.

These days, your cell phone identity goes beyond whether you get free weekend minutes or an expanded nationwide calling plan.

It's in the model of the phone you choose -- a $602 Motorola V3 that weighs about three ounces, or one of those giveaway phones you get just by signing up? It's in the ringing of your phone, too -- and the good ol' Ring! Ring! Ring! in your cell phone, Murray says, is so two years ago, when your choices in ring tones ranged from "The Star-Spangled Banner" to Beethoven's "Fur Elise."

This is a breakout year for tones, the 20- to 30-second synthesized versions of songs that play when cell phones ring, like an audible caller ID. They've been the rage in Western Europe and Asia, particularly in South Korea (news - web sites) and Japan, in the past two years, says IDC, a market research firm based in Framingham, Mass. But the United States, with younger consumers leading the way, is catching on fast.

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