updated 2/1/2007 4:58:09 PM ET 2007-02-01T21:58:09

The standard ringtones on cell phones aren't good enough for lots of people who spend a few dollars a pop to download song clips and other custom sounds to their devices. Now an Israeli startup bets it can add another layer: the video ringtone.

Vringo Inc. used the DEMO technology conference Thursday to launch its service, which is free for now. If one Vringo user calls another, instead of the recipient just hearing his phone ring, he or she would see a short video clip chosen by the caller. Licensed film clips are available, but users can also upload their own video.

Of course, this requires a higher-end cell phone that can show video — a small slice of the mobile market, at least for now. Buying a video clip from Vringo likely will cost a few dollars after the launch phase ends, but users could send it as many times as they want.

Vringos can be sent only to people on a customer's buddy list, so you don't have to anticipate the age of unsolicited commercials appearing on your phone out of nowhere.

But Vringo's founders do believe their platform has ad potential. Paid video clips eventually might end with a brief ad for users who agree to accept the commercial message, likely in exchange for Vringo discounts.

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