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Nokia’s new ringtone – hate it or… feel slightly uncomfortable about it

The new Nokia ringtone. Listen at your own peril.

By Charlotta Hedman

There’s a heated debate among Nokia fans (and haters) about what their new crowd-sourced ringtone really says about the company. A dubsteb version of the classic Nokia ringtone has the web-bile flowing.

This is what Nokia themselves said about the competition.

“Nokia Tune is one of world’s most recognized audio brand assets and is estimated to be heard over one billion times a day. Nokia is launching a global crowdsourcing campaign to find a fresh version of the Nokia Tune. This is the first time Nokia is inviting people to work with the iconic tune with the winning tune to be placed next to the standard Nokia Tune in a selection of the company 2012 product portfolio. The tune should be fresh, expressive, original, creative yet distinctively a Nokia Tune. All collaborations are welcome.”

The competition was created by Finnish start-up AudioDraft, which organises crowd-sourcing of sound design. You can hear the winning tune and the other top entries at the Nokia AudioDraft website.

This is what the internet had to say about it.

According to Geekosystem it’s terrible.

“Nokia’s standard ringtone is a classic. Not satisfied with having a classic, however, it seems that Nokia is determined to get with the times, market to the hip young kiddos, and be fresh and relevant in the not-at-all-diminishingly-important world of ringtones. How? That’s easy. Dubstep, bro. Kids love the dubsteps. Right? RIGHT?!

Apparently they do, because the 24 second dubstep-tastic ringtone by Valerio Alessandro Sizzi won the Nokia Tune competition with 1000 likes on Facebook, winning against 6,200 other entries. In addition to having his ringtone pre-loaded on over 100 million Nokia phones (every musician’s dream), he also gets paid (actually every musician’s dream) a cool $10,000 for his efforts. Coincidentally enough, that appears to be exactly how much Nokia’s remaining dignity is worth, and judging by their comments on the winner, they seem to be glad to be rid of the pesky stuff.”

And the competition wasn’t even fully crowd-sourced.

“While parts of the competition were crowdsourced (5 entries selected by the public, 5 by a panel of judges) the ultimate decision fell to Nokia appointed judges, so the blame falls squarely on them. It’s a pretty standard case of an elderly company trying to be hip so hard that they fall and break theirs, but the lack of insight with this decision is pretty astounding.”

The Downtime blog at Computer Weekly isn’t impressed in a post titled “Oh dear, Nokia is trying to be cool again“.

“It makes me want to pull my hair out that instead of spending money on fixing and improving an operating system Nokia is more than happy to waste it on a silly little PR stunt to try and regain some credibility. ”

Gizmodo Australia gets philosophical.

“The “Dubstep Edition” of the new tone (embedded above) — already cheapening itself with commodity parlance — mistakes familiarity for populism. Oh, the tropes are all there: the crushing bass, the suffocating synth maelstrom. But there’s no form. It’s as sterile and assembled as the 100 million handsets it’ll be preloaded on. Where lies the grit and triumph of the East End? Where do I hear the fingerprints of Skream on the wobble? Where is James Blake’s egg salad sandwich? This is no “ringtone” — this is a gravel heap of dreadful appropriation. No melodic tribute is paid to Nokia’s original, indicative of a company that’s lost its way.”

Does anyone have anything positive to say!? Oh, wait… TechCrunch thinks it’s catchy.

“We’ll have to see about that. Nokia’s got a lot of work to do if they want to cast off their stodgy reputation, and a dubstep ringtone could go either way. In its defense, the ringtone is surprisingly catchy (at least for the first few times you hear it), but only time will tell if Nokia can gain some more traction among the younger set.”

Ehm, apparently Nokia also seems to claim that their original ringtone is one of the biggest selling tunes of all time (via The Wall Street Journal).

“To give you some idea of the scale of the winning tune’s audience, the biggest selling songs of all time are: Bing Crosby’s White Christmas: 50 million and Elton John’s Candle in the Wind (Diana’s Funeral)—33 million. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is the only album to have sold more than 100 million. And Lady Gaga’s total album and singles sales to date add up to an estimated 65 million.”

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