In my personal top ten of the world's most disgusting companies this week's highest entry is Vodafone who almost managed to supersede Monsanto in their lead position. The reasons: greed and bad taste. What happened? (You can skip the now following rant to get to the mp3 part by clicking here.)
Like every two years I recently had the option to renew my mobile phone contract, for which the providers usually reward you by offering a new mobile phone for a reduced price (or some of the cheaper models for 1 Euro). As I wanted to own a phone that allows me to run Flash Lite 1.1 files I decided to go for the Sony Ericsson v800 - already knowing that the "v" stands for "Vandalized by Vodafone". It's unbelievable - on the case alone they managed to place their logo four times - and it's not a simple screen print that you could rub off with a little nitro - no, removing them would mean to ruin the case permanently.
But what's worse is that they also run the phone on their own OS which means that also on the screens there is big-red Vodafone all over the place. You can replace most of those graphics with your own, but you cannot delete them from the phone's memory. They hijack one of the two main menu entries so you will always connect to their internet portal when you - maybe accidentally - click it. But well, it looks like that is the price that you have to pay for getting a discount on the phone.
Unfortunately that is not the end of the story. In their endless greed Vodafone has disabled one of the most common used functions - the ability to use mp3 files as ringtones. You can upload them into your phone, yes. You can also listen to them on the media player. But you are not allowed to use them as ringtone, alarm or as a contact identifier. Why not? Because Vodafone wants you to buy the ringtones from their portal. Buy ringtones? Do I look like a teenager or a brain-amputee? No way. But I'm not the first one to have that problem - Google reveals that probably every owner of this phone looks for a solution to this and until recently there has been a way to circumvent this:
In order for mp3s to be freely usable on the v800 they have to be packaged as DRM files. A DRM file is a wrapper that can be used to restrict or allow certain usage of its contents. Fortunately Sony Ericsson provides - or rather provided - developers with a DRM Packager Tool. This tool allows - no - allowed you to convert .mp3 files to .dm files. Of course something as useful as this was soon discovered and the link made its round through mobile forums all over the web with the result, that suddenly the tool officially is not available anymore on the Sony Ericsson site. In order to get it these days it seems like you have to visit dark backrooms of dubious sites or try to find someone who was lucky enough to download it whilst it was still available. Smells fishy and not like something I would want to recommend my readers.
Fortunately I discovered another way to make my mp3 files work as ringtones and as I haven't found this solution on any SE v800 related forum yet, here is how it works: Unlike Sony Ericsson Nokia has not yet surrendered to the Dark Side. And as developers for Nokia phones have to create DRM packages, too, this company also offers a tool to accomplish this task. The tool we need is part of the Nokia Mobile Internet Toolkit 4.1 - in order to download it you will have to register as a developer at the Nokia Forum, but that registration is free and currently open to everyone. After downloading it you will have to register the application to receive a serial number - so make sure that you enter a valid email adress.
The actual method to convert .mp3s to .dm files works like this:
- launch the NMIT 4.1 application
- the start screen looks like this.
Click on the "Digital Rights" link that I have marked in red.
- this will bring you to the DRM packager.
- Click the radio button "Combined Delivery Lock (.dm)  - on the right side the "Specify Rights" screen will appar
- In this screen select the "Enable Play Rights" checkbox  in the "Play" tab. For our purposes it is not necessary to set any of the other options.
- Click the "Load Content" button  and select an mp3 from your collection.
- Select File - Save
from the top menu or press CTRL-S to save the DRM package as a .dm file.
- Upload the .dm file into the "Sounds" folder of your v800 memory stick via the method of your choice (Bluetooth, USB, Infrared) . After uploading via USB make sure to unplug the cable in order to avoid file locking.
- On your v800 go to to the "My Phone" menu, select "Sounds", search the title of the sound file you uploaded and select "More -> use as -> ringtone". I have a german menu, so maybe the menu items are called a bit different on your phone.
I'm still thinking about completely weeding out the Vodafone OS from my mobile. This german company for example offers a debranding service for lots of models. But I will first do a little bit more research about the consequences this might have.Posted at March 12, 2005 06:46 PM | Further reading