Art comes down to the phone

Vodafone Group PLC's latest attempt to jazz up mobile life is to offer some of the latest masterpieces of modern art on mobile handsets.

The venture lets customers download pictures from a choice of eight new works from artists including Tracey Newman.

"It'll be something completely different from the usual football mottoes people normally download," said a Vodafone spokeswoman. "Bringing art to the masses, you could say."

The pictures, downloadable from Vodafone's website, cost 36 pence a time, perhaps a little steep for a picture not much bigger than a stamp and with far less resolution.

"It's a new gimmick," said a spokesperson at the Consumers Association. "People download pictures because they are free, they're a nice novelty, but whether people will want to pay will remain to be seen."

But the service may face competition from MTV, which yesterday launched its free downloadable ring tone and icon service.

People can download tunes the website, MTV.co.uk, and choose from one of the logos including cartoon characters and music celebrities.

The service is currently only available for Nokia, Motorola and Sagem handsets, but plans to extend the service are underway.

Tunes, artwork and cartoon characters? Makes you wonder if anyone cares about actually making phone calls anymore.

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