Marimba, the default ringtone that has been standard on all iPhones since 2007 is gone, but not forgotten. In an era of cheesy midi ringtones, Apple raised the bar with the first iPhone. So distinct, so recognizable and patently iPhone. During the early days of iPhone, hearing this tone would cause people to look up and gaze with appreciation at the gorgeous slab of cellular technology. Over the years, the tone has become synonymous with the iPhone, but that’s all changing with iOS 7. We knew they would strip every stitch of skeuomorphic linen fabric, but not our beloved Marimba ringtone. When iOS 7 is released next Wednesday, September 18th, the default ringtone will ‘Opening’.


The title Marimba is based on the musical instrument, having large wooden bars with resonators. Musicians strike the bars with mallets to produce sound. It was originally authored by Kelly Jacklin, who tells his amazing story about his love for the sound of marimbas and kalimbas. Jacklin work on Marimba dates back to 1999.

I was looking for something “simple” that would grab the user’s attention. I thought a simple sequence of notes, played with a clean-sounding instrument, would cut through the clutter of noise in a home or office.

After working on a number of sounds for Apple, Jacklin settled on 158-marimba.aiff as his favorite and sent it to Jeff Robbin, who was looking for tones which would be used on SoundJam MP, the software that would eventually become iTunes. Apple purchased SoundJam MP and Robbin become part of the team at Apple.

Years later, the iPhone would be introduced. Marimba would be born as the single most defining ringtone of the smartphone generation. Maybe a few years down the road, we’ll look back fondly on the new ‘opening’ ringtone. Thankfully, it stills lives and rings within the dark corridors of the ringtone settings, nestled in with the other ‘Classic’ tones. What’s next, are no longer going to receive calls from John Appleseed?

Farewell Marimba, until we meet again.