Your Tone

Jason English

One time, on a train, I was seated beside a young but very solemn woman in a headdress. If pressed, I'd say she was 28. She brought along no reading material, or baggage of any kind. I remember these seemingly inconsequential details for a reason.

Halfway through our commute, the distinct sound of "In Da Club" by 50 Cent was broadcast from her pocket. It was her cell phone. That's when I realized this whole ring-tone business was for real.

But according to Sunday's New York Times, "The ring-tone market is maturing. Retail sales of ring tones are expected to drop this year by $50 million, to $550 million, compared with 2006, according to Broadcast Music Inc., which handles licensing agreements for the tones."

Over half a billion dollars? I can't be the only person with a shocked-by-someone's-ring-tone story. Got anything?