Apple may launch official iPhone ringtones via iTunes on Wednesday

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ituneslogo.jpgEven before the iPhone launched, we’ve been expecting there to be some way of purchasing and uploading ringtones to the iPhone via iTunes. Now several prominent US newspapers are reporting that Steve Jobs could use his special event on Wednesday (the star of the show rumoured to be new touchscreen, Intel-based iPods) to launch an iPhone ringtone service.

As the Crazy Frog will tell/irritatingly shout at you, there’s money to be made from ringtones, particularly as Apple may wish to cash in on the iPhone’s ability to assign individual tones to each contact.

If the deal is announced, it will be interesting to see how much freedom there is. Will users be able to put any song purchase on their iPhone to use as a tone, or just a selection. Presumably it’ll be based as much on what licensing agreements Apple has with the music labels. There’s already talk that Universal Music won’t be in on the deal, as owned company NBC plans to pull its TV shows from the iTunes Store.

There’s definitely a market for ring tones, even though I prefer, where the phone allows it, just to side load existing MP3 tracks onto the phone for free. Indeed, though the iPhone doesn’t natively support it, there are already hacks and more user-friendly software that’ll do just that.

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Andy Merrett