Push Ringer: is ringtone hijacking acceptable?

Emotive_logoJames has a thought piece published over at the Houston Chronicle and it raises some interesting questions. I’ve read through it a few times and I’m sill looking for the benefit justification of Emotive’s "Push Ringer" service. Essentially, Push Ringer allows you choose a ring tone for your calls; pick a tune and your recipient’s phone will play it when you call them. Sounds like a fun way to personalize your calls, right? For some, it probably is, but there’s a glaring issue: the person receiving your call has temporarily lost control over the ring tone on their phone. You "push" the ring tone and they hear it when you call, no if’s, and’s or but’s.

Make no mistake, I’m all for personalization and social sharing oftechnologies. In this case however, I’d like to see some way for thecall recipient to have some way of maintaining control on the ringtones of the phones and service they pay for. Emotive: if you’re reading this, pleaseconsider what you’re taking away from the call recipient before youhand it over to the call initiator. Some kind of opt-out should be available. The product concept is fine if and only if the call recipient can maintain control over their experience.

Let’s run through a scenario for a second: suppose I’m in a business meeting and get a call. I’m not a big ring tone fan, so I tend to go with standard sounds that convey a purpose (I’ve got a call), but still maintain some manners (sorry for the interruption). So I’m in my business meeting and get a call from someone using Push Ringer. I have zero control over the sounds that come out of my phone at this point. Perhaps someone has created a custom audio file with obscenities or something else inappropriate for the context of my current environment; how will that go over at my business appointment? What if my kids are around? You see where I’m going here…

Customization is a key enabler of any technology, but you can’t use the word "customization" without preceding it with or implying the word "personalized". When my phone rings, I want customization for my own personal experience; not be forced with someone else’s.