For Whom the Bell Rings: Differences in the Use of Ringtones and Mobile Music in Japan and the United States

Conference paper abstract

Surveys and interviews of Japanese and American college students showed that they differed in their use of digital music downloads and ringtones because of dissimilar technological infrastructure and rollout in their countries. As American respondents were more likely to own PCs, they were more likely to own iPods and download music from the Internet; the Japanese were more likely to use mobile phones, due to a historically more user-friendly mobile internet environment. Nonetheless, cultural differences played a role in the social significance of ringtones. American students, whose cultural norms tended toward more extrovert behavior, were more likely to express their feelings toward others through ringtones and attach significance to other people's ringtones. Conversely, many Japanese adopted the norm of non-obtrusiveness by using vibration mode or restricting audible ringtones to the confines of their social groups. The paper expands on the role of cultural differences in the interpretation of ringtones.


Noriko Manabe nmanabe at gc dot cuny dot edu