Perhaps personalized dialing codes are the new ringtones. As with ringtones in the past decade, carriers are getting excited over a vanity phone number service called StarStar Me, created by mobile marketing startup Zoove, and its potential to provide an alternative revenue stream beyond voice and data plans.
For $3 a month, T-Mobile customers can sign up for their own personal alphanumeric code. When that code is dialed, preceded by two taps of the “*” button, from any U.S. mobile number it will ring that customer’s phone. Customers who download the StarStar Me app from the iTunes or Google Play stores will also be able to use StarStar Me’s call management features, which can be used to send callers an automated voice message or SMS and even a link.
It’s a neat idea, and one that could put some service revenue in carriers’ pockets. But there are some inherent limits to how big such a service could scale, especially when compared to other blockbuster carrier services of the past like ringtones. While anyone can set a Prince song as their ringtone, only one U.S. mobiles subscriber can have the StarStar Me code “**PRINCEFAN.”
Still if that one Prince fan pays $3 a month into perpetuity for that short code, I’m sure his carrier won’t complain. And StarStar Me isn’t lacking for customer interest. Zoove said it has received hundreds of millions search queries for personalized dialing codes in the last 90 days, and while it isn’t revealing how many people have signed up for their own StarStar monikers, Zoove said that 100,000 calls have been placed to existing codes to date.
So far Sprint, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile all now offer the StarStar Me service. So if AT&T does sign on with Zoove in the future, its customers might find the pickings for available codes slim.