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Vodafone pitches Comic Sans as the next Crazy Frog

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The search for the next ringtone - a product that costs nothing but customers will willingly pay for - has finally borne fruit with the launch of FlipFont, a Vodafone service enabling punters to change the text font on their handset.

Fonts available at launch

Vodafone customers with a Nokia N73 or N95, experiencing a certain sense of emptiness having changed their background graphics and installed games as much as they can stand, will be able to switch fonts to stave off the mobile gloom. Naturally there will be a couple of quid to cough up for the privilege.

Over the last decade companies have been pushing everything from 3D wallpaper graphics to vibrational text messages as "the next ringtone", hoping that operators desperate to avoid being left behind will invest in the most unlikely customisation products. Orange even coined the word "mobification" to describe the process, though the term seems to have sat all unloved on the jargon-shelf ever since.

Monotype imaging provides fonts and font rendering software, and has teamed up with Vodafone to offer ten fonts for download, together with an application called FlipFont that will change the font used. Apparently the supported handsets and range of fonts will both increase over time.

Ringtones have been an incredible success story, but one that the European network operators largely missed as third parties stepped in to provide the service billed through premium-rate numbers. The great thing about a ringtone, though, is that it makes you look cool (supposedly) without you having to draw attention to the fact that you have such an awesome ringtone; your phone rings and your peers are impressed.

Wallpaper graphics lack that automatic attraction - you have to show them to someone before they can be impressed, which makes them less cool. One can only imagine that with a font you'll not only have to ostentatiously wave it at your chums, but also explain the difference, which surely tarnishes the cool value somewhat.

Still, according to Monotype, "users have tried to change their phone font and have broken their phone in the process". So someone somewhere does care. A quick straw poll at Vulture Central didn't reveal any untapped market for a change of font - but perhaps we just lack the right peers. ®

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