Ringles or Wrongle?

By Richard Menta 9/12/07

The hype that the record industry generating with the introduction of the Ringle - nothing more that the resurrection of the CD single concept with a ringtone added - only seems to magnify how out of touch the major labels are these days. Even the press sees it as an anachronism from the start and not the introduction of an important strategic move to revive the CD. Frankly, the idea appears more the invention of some executive who still clings to his 1980's rack system with the huge faux-wood decorated speakers than from any visionary in the digital space.

I am not convinced that an iPod toting public is itching to go back to the CD. At the same time I am also not convinced that the CD format itself is completely obsolete. It is in need of a significant update and that is partially what the major labels are trying to do with ringles. As long as every household in America still has one if not several devices that can play CDs the format still has considerable value.

But the ringle is also an attempt by the industry to revive the bundled delivery of music, something that is less compelling to the modern consumer, particularly at the prices they are asking. A ringle offers three tracks and a ringtone for $6.98. For the digitally adept the same music and ringtone can be purchased on iTunes for $3.96. Ringles do posess the CDs biggest competitive advantage, it's superior sonic quality, but downloads are more convenient. Consumers also get to cherry pick only the best tracks with downloads, which undermines the bundled approach the big labels are so attached to.

Ultimately, the ringle just seems more like a conceptual step backwards than forwards. This at a time when the labels need to encourage consumers to continue to invest in both digital and physical formats. High prices and dated technology strategies only encourage consumers to choose between them.


The Archos 605 Wi-Fi portable DVR is available on Amazon

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The Archos 605 Wi-Fi portable DVR is available on Amazon

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