The New York Times has an interesting article about China’s mobile phone service company has changed customers’ ring-back tones to a patriotic song ahead of the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic.
A ring-back tone is what a caller hears once a number is dialed but before the other party picks up. Many providers outside of the US provide the ability to customize the ring-back audio of a phone. The standard tone is a repetitive ring. Here is the US most users still associate the standard ring with the actual bells that were used on the original land line phones, not realizing that the tone is actually a digital music file like an MP3. The phone carriers consider the new patriotic theme a gift to their users.
Users are given other options of ring-back music if they do not wish to have the patriotic song that was selected for them. In China ring-back tones are big business, accounting for hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue (source).
Read the full NY Times article here – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/30/world/asia/30ringtone.html