RealTime IT News

Sony Likes Ringtones, Buys Run Tones

Sony Music Entertainment (SME) is expanding its mobile digital media platform with its acquisition of wireless entertainment company Run Tones.

Run Tones specializes in wireless services for consumer and business applications, including a ringtone service called RUNtones, and RUNpics, a personal photo service. The company also provides private-label wireless portals through its Mobile Media Hub services division.

At the same time it announced the acquisition, the New York-based division of media/electronics company Sony launched a new Mobile Products Group. The focus is to expand Sony's wireless promotional efforts, such as ringtones for cell phones, previews of new music releases, and eventually, photos and videos.

But among the most important short-term benefits of the deal are the Run Tones customers that Sony inherits: Adobe, AT&T Wireless, Ericsson, Nokia, Openwave, Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment and the Warner Music Group.

With its purchase of Run Tones (financial terms were not released), Sony is expected to use the smaller firm's sizable client roster as part of its expanding digital media distribution strategy on mobile and wireless devices. So far, that's consisted of efforts like "listening party," a mobile service in Europe launched recently with UK-based wireless company Vodaphone. It enables subscribers to dial up 30-second audio samples of tracks from artists' latest releases.

If the multimedia messaging services market takes off the way tech research firms predict it will, Sony has a company in tow to help it capitalize on the market. In-Stat/MDR, for one, estimates that next-generation wireless services that can handle greater packet sizes in data transit will help enhanced messaging and multimedia messaging services surpass regular wireless voice subscriptions.

The media and electronics giant has been moving aggressively to expand its digital media distribution strategy in other areas as well. The company recently acquired digital rights management specialist company InterTrust for $453 million, which holds many patents that cover anti-piracy techniques for a variety of digital media platforms.