Still want an iPhone?

by Volker Weber

This week Apple introduced iTunes 7.4 which contains a ringtone editor. What is a ringtone? A piece of music or a sound which plays when you receive a call. How does iTunes create a ringtone? You first need to buy a track for a dollar, then you select up to 30 seconds of the track you just bought, and you buy it a again for another dollar. You cannot use any tracks you already imported from your CDs, since you cannot pay for them again.

What iTunes 7.4 does is so downright simple that you can do it yourself with Audacity or GarageBand. Crop a piece of music and create a simple fadeout.

iTunes puts the tracks into the folder iTunes Music/Ringtones. If you placed an AAC file there and renamed it to m4r, then iTunes would sync it to your iPhone. Problem: you did not pay again for something you already bought.

Tonight Apple released a new update to iTunes:

itunes 7.4.1

As you can see, Apple does not report what changed from 7.4 to 7.4.1. Not even in the usual weasel words about "improving" the user experience. What it actually does is to break the workaround. 7.4.1 will now report:

"... was not copied to the iPhone ..., because it cannot be played on this iPhone"

The workaround for this block is simple: change the file extension of the ringtone back to .m4a. Now wait for Apple to come out with 7.4.2 and kick their customers in the nuts again.

Any other phone will just play an mp3 track that you may sync yourself without asking iTunes for permission.

Repeat after me: DRM is bad for the customer.


vowe please: s/4\.7/7\.4/g

Sascha Reissner, 2007-09-08

Certainly Apple is only doing this to make sure your custom ringtone isn't going to bring down the entire mobile phone network?

Armin Grewe, 2007-09-08

yeah DRM is very bad for the customer and arguablely bad for the vendor.

My impression is Apple tends to be more reasonable about DRM than the content providers ( e.g. vs NBC in recent TV spat; Apple will offer DRM-free music if content provider agrees)
Perhaps because I like Apple and dislike RIAA, I assume this was pushed by the content providers. Sprint wants $2.50 for a ringtone, so while this ringtone policy seems silly, it is better than average.

Update: I read that iToner is back working and adding an additional step gets the rename ploy to work in 7.4.1 and this morning I loaded 7.4.2. SSDD

Lee Davis, 2007-09-09

See the nice article on the iPhone user (and his family that all have one) that got the $4800 bill. They took a cruise with phones off but there is a little fine print they did not read. The iPhone will automatically attempt to get email, even with the phone off, so it is there right away when you start the phone. They were hit with roaming charges by not disabling the wireless mode before turning it off.,0,2929341.story?coll=ny_home_rail_headlines

Chris Miller, 2007-09-10

The reporting looks like B/S. When the phone is off, it is off. And when it is off, then it does not fetch mail. The phones were most likely just "asleep" (display off and locked).

Volker Weber, 2007-09-10

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


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