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Downloadable Ringtones, Logos Jazz Up Israeli Cell Phones

TEL AVIV - The craze for downloading personalized rings and screen images for cellphones - whether they be folk music, techno or the "Star Wars" theme - has reached Israel.

iTouch Israel, a joint venture of U.K.-based iTouch and Israeli business newspaper Globes, announced a deal with Tower Records to provide ringtones (site in Hebrew only) and logos to mobile phone service users.

The iTouch-Tower Records service is available now only to owners of Nokia handsets, but it covers both the TDMA technology used by cellular provider Cellcom and the GSM network of Orange.

iTouch said coverage of other cellphones and networks will follow. Parent company iTouch International has developed the technology to also send ringtones to certain Motorola phones.

The company said that by the end of the year, about 1 million of the 4.5 million phones in Israel will be able to accept ringtones and logos.

The company is also promoting that this service can be bought through pre-paid cards, as well as with credit cards.

iTouch Israel Joint Managing Director Igal Chemerinski said iTouch has developed ringtones service in partnership with Vodafone in Australia, New Zealand and the U.K., and with Vodacom service in South Africa.

"Our agreement with the leading music retail chain (in Israel) and its powerful ecommerce website allows iTouch to continue to provide wireless solutions to our partners," Chemerinski said. "With this latest service, iTouch Israel reasserts its status as the premier supplier of selective and high quality content for mobile phones delivered via WAP & PALM, SMS Text Messaging and interactive voice platforms."

iTouch Israel provides news, information and other services to cellphone users in Israel. Its partnership with Globes gives it access to business and financial news, as well.

The ringtones and logos can be purchased in packages of one through 15, and the average cost of a ringtone is from 20-50 cents.

The service uses the Tower Records Internet site and iTouch interactive voice and SMS technology. Ringtones and logos are downloadable from the Internet. But in a bid to reach a youthful audience, downloads can be done directly from telephones, as well.

The ringtones available include current pop hits, songs from the '60s to the '90s, soundtracks, TV themes, classical music, jazz, French and Brazilian tunes and the Israeli music.

iTouch has also signed an agreement with "House of Agnosia" a leading dance and music company in Israel, to include Agnosia's electronic music in the service. An agreement has been signed with the Israel Copyright Society to authorize the copyright for all ringtones used.

iTouch Israel was established last June. iTouch plc has offices in the U.K., Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and has further plans of expansion into Greece, Thailand, Indonesia and China by June 2001 through a partnership with MIH.



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