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Yahoo's Ringtone Service



Sometimes it's good to visit archives of web portals like Yahoo! and MSN because they always contain news articles that give you an idea of what was going on around the world at that time. So I went on an archive of Yahoo.co.uk from 2003, when I found an advertisement for Yahoo's paid ringtone service. Nowadays you can pretty much get your own ringtones for free, but some people choose to purchase them from iTunes, even though it's super easy to create your own. I clicked on some of the tones they were advertising, and the WayBack Machine had even archived the sample audio files, except for some reason I couldn't hear anything.

Then I was taken to the page " uk.mobile.yahoo.com" where Yahoo! were selling lots of things like animated text messages and text message services that provided you with things like the weather and football alerts. Most of the animated text messages only worked on selected Nokia phones though. I remember when text services like this were really big before mobile Internet really caught on. Once I picked up a magazine in 2010 and at the back there was a list of hundreds of text services. You could text a number and it would give you images, applications and horoscopes, except you did obviously have to pay for them. Whilst Yahoo doesn't own a mobile network or anything, I'm pretty sure that Yahoo! Japan (which is technically a separate company) has a broadband Internet and maybe a phone network.





If you go to a 2018 archive of this page, it's literally just an advertisement for Yahoo's mobile apps. Same with the 2010 archive, except I think that this version has a prettier design scheme than the newer one.



Companies nowadays don't really advertise that their apps are available for BlackBerry devices anymore, but back then these phones were super popular so they would've had to make an app for them. Seeing it reminds me of when I used to use my old BB Torch 9800. You don't see anything on this page saying that there's an Android app anywhere, which is strange because the operating system was around back then.



This is the page from 2009. It looks very different to the next year's page, doesn't it? Yahoo forgot to put a capital letter on the P in "iPhone". It looks like the BlackBerry phone they're using for the advertisement is either the Torch or the Storm. The further you go back, the less advanced the phones featured in the advertisements look. Each year the page looks different.

Once you go back to 2005, the page turns back into a ringtone/fancy text service, this time with wallpapers and games! When I went onto it, for some reason it downloaded a Flash file to my computer titled "yahoo_mobiles.swf".



I particularly like the bit on the side that says "Are you having fun? We doubt it!". Each game costs about ?3, which is about the price of some of the games on the App Store today, although most of the kinds of games Yahoo were selling are often free nowadays. I wonder who actually bought these things? Somebody must've done, because otherwise they wouldn't have had this service up for more than a couple of years.

All of this old phone stuff reminds me of that WAP Internet that phones used to use before they were powerful enough to browse the regular web. There's an interesting video on YouTube where somebody manages to get WAP working on an old monochrome Nokia in 2018. It's really worth a watch. The video is here if you want to see it.

That's all I looked at concerning Yahoo! Mobile. This is all specifically on the UK & Ireland Yahoo! site, but I'm sure the other versions had these things available too. Phones have evolved so much since the early 2000s, it's amazing how quickly technology has advanced. They're basically just pocket computers now.

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