@Apple 'v' Normal Phone
<long winded rant>
I am in a similar position and agree with this. I have a Sony Ericsson v630.... or something like that. Model number aint on the cover and I aint taken the batter out for the purposes of this post.
The phone has all the usual things most modern phones have; camera, memory card (I got a 4GB one a few weeks back), makes calls, text messages, emails, surf the net, bluetooth, MP3's, some weird video format, etc. The phone is locked to Vodafone, but that's my provider so what do I care?
My point is, either using the phone cable to directly connect the phone to my PC via USB (when I do this, my phone is picked up as an external USB hard drive), or over bluetooth, I can dump MP3's onto my memory card. I can plug in my earphones and listen to the MP3's if I so wish, just like a real MP3 player!!! But, I can also selected any of my MP3's as a ringtone. I don't need to modify it, or pay anything to do it. I just rip the song off a CD, copy it to my fone, and select it as my ring tone.
Now, I haven't seen an iPhone yet, but have read a bit about it. And if the iPhone could just play MP3's, this issue obviosuly wouldn't be..... well, and issue. For those Apple defenders, the iPhone was designed by APPLE, not the RIAA. It was programmed by APPLE, not the RIAA. APPLE wrote the iPhone software in such a way that prevented you from using an MP3 as a ringtone. There is no two ways about that. MAYBE the RIAA are pressuring Apple now to charge twice for a ringtone, but it was Apple that gave them that opportunity by restricting the iPhone and not allowing it to use existing MP3's (bought or ripped from CD) as a ringtone. The charges may be the result of the RIAA, but the restrictions are Apples doing.
Now, I aint an Apple blaster or "fanboy". I have an Apple notebook, a PC with XP on it, and two *nix machine. I have an 80 GB iPod, because my 4GB on my fone just isn't enough space and I think it's a pretty good device. It suits my needs. Apple software in general is very good, and is very hard to fault a lot of the time. But this restriction on the use of MP3's on the iPhone...... there's clearly money making reasons behind that, because if the RIAA forced them to do it that way, then they would have forced Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and any other phone manufacturers that make phones with MP3 players built in!
</long winded rant>