Retro-Tech – While Donald Trump advisers are trying to convince the President to tweet from a more secure and high-tech device (he sticks to his old phone), at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the big news wasn’t the launch of the latest cutting-edge technology or a brand new futuristic smartphone… But the come back of the beloved 17 years old Nokia 3310. Nostalgia-geekness, retro-tech trend or the sincere need for a more disconnected lifestyle? Maybe… We went a bit beyond the hype, and there it was… A big elephant in the room: a massive business alliance that could rock the mobile phone industry.
Technically, Nokia 3310 is a “feature phone”: you can call send sms and even play Snake! But no data… And that means no apps and no maps. If you want share some information with a friend you simply call, or T9-text him. Old school. The so called “dumb phones” – as opposed to “smart phones” – are today 10-15% of the market in Western countries and up to 50% in developing countries. That depends by the lower price, by alternative ways to use them – e.g. as a back up phone – or different type of users, like the elderly ones.
But Nokia 3310 is more then that! It’s a memory lane tech-mate. It’s a former status symbol now back in fashion for those who want to say “I am not mainstream. I don’t follow the hype of becoming slave of my smartphone. I go old style because low-tech is cooler than high-tech”. At Nokia they understood that, indeed, instead of costing 10-20 € like other feature phones, the new 3310 will be on sale at 50 €.
Is it the right price for a fancy retro-tech gadget for hipsters in the closet? Probably yes, considering that it has a super powerful battery that can last for 31 days on standby and survive a 15h of music playback or an exhausting 22h talk. Plus, it might be as indestructible as its ancestor!
Retro-tech is not a trend though. In 2015 Jasper Morrison launched Punkt feature phone and the credit card-like Light Phone raised in just few days over $ 400.000 on Kickstarter. The vintage imprint of hipster culture was the fortune of Instagram and digital polaroids. Arcade games are the the new old while vinyl records became mainstream again.
Last year Yves Behar redesigned the iconic Kodak Super 8 and Lexus even developed a new technology to bring into reality “Back to the future” hoverboard. On top of that there are rumours that Lenovo might re-launch the Motorola brand. But Nokia 3310 is pretty much the first love you won’t forget. Hello Moto?
Still, there is more than it meets the eye. The new Nokia 3310 is the result of a meeting of giants in the mobile industry: HMD, Foxconn and Microsoft. Finnish company HMD Global bought Nokia from Microsoft along with the exclusive rights to use the Nokia brand on mobile phones and tablets globally in the next 10 years. The company teamed also with Hon Hai/Foxconn Technology Group, one of the largest leading mobile manufacturers and developers in China and worldwide. Finnish company Nokia – which was bought by Microsoft and has shares in HMD will oversight the design. Microsoft provided software support.
The result is a EU-US-Chinese join venture featuring the largest manufacturing capacity, top software development technology, advanced design background and one of the strongest marketing positionings. A massive elephant in the room that almost went unnoticed at the Mobile World Congress, obfuscated by the media hype of the Nokia 3310. The humble-phone debut sounded like clear message to all competitors, from Samsung to Apple and Huawey. Will it “Snake” its way to the top? Will that familiar ringtone make some noise?
All photos courtesy of HMD Global and Danny Winget – YouTube.