On Monday we woke to the monophonic sounds of the late 90s, with news that HMD Global had relaunched the Nokia 3310. But does HMD Global think that the handset will sell, or was this a well-executed PR stunt to raise the profile of Nokia’s new range of smart phones? Pagefield’s Ellie Riddles gives her take.
It was Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona – where the crème de la crème of the technology world come together to display their latest and greatest innovations to their industry peers and global media.
However, this year’s event saw one retro-device bucking that trend.
On the opening day of Mobile World Congress, the re-vamped Nokia 3310 was unveiled. It isn’t identical to the original many of us held in our palms over a decade ago, with the modern variant a smaller, thinner and lighter handset, but it is still light-years behind the technology on showcase from the likes of Sony and Samsung. Other features include a colour screen, limited 2.5G connectivity, battery life of up to a month, and even a modern version of the Snake game to quench our nostalgia needs.
Why is it important?
Mobile World Congress is the bench-mark event for each major technology company to display their prowess and dazzling new devices. However, this year the media coverage was almost entirely driven by the revamped Nokia 3310.
Does Nokia really think that in the world of the smartphone such a limited handset will succeed? Or is this a well-executed marketing and PR-stunt by HMD Global, who license the Nokia brand name, to pique our nostalgia?
In defence of the former, smartphone sales increased by 1.1% from 2015-2016, but in the global smartphone market there are undoubtedly industry concerns that this growth will begin to dwindle as consumers get ‘smartphone fatigue’. Sam Gibbs, the assistant tech editor of The Guardian, phrased it brilliantly – “they’re all a much of muchness. One smartphone is the same as the next.”
But are consumers really bored of smartphones? It’s unlikely. More likely this was a clever stunt to grab the media’s attention, raising the profile of Nokia’s own new generation of smart phones in turn. HMD Global has been under huge pressure in recent years with the smart phone market dominated by Samsung, Apple and Sony. In crowded markets such as this, where products are much of a much of a muchness, you need to use all the tools available to you to get one over on your competitors.
What’s the reaction been?
Bringing back the most popular phone from the last decade has promoted global media coverage across each continent.
Similarly, on social media, memes have exploded on the return of the 3310. Some have been about the devices indestructible nature, others have mocked-up new ‘selfie sticks’ to use with the device, which doesn’t even have a front-camera. There have even been calls for other ‘retro’ phones, such as the Motorola Razr, to be brought back. Technology reviewers on platforms such as YouTube have already released videos online comparing the modern variant to its antique counterpart, generating millions of views.
What will be interesting is to see whether the marketing stunt will convert into hard-cash sales for HND Global. The phone is scheduled in for Q2 release this year, but the real question will be whether consumers will spend £42 for a mobile device that cannot perform the tasks we take for granted nowadays?
As the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones notes, the stunt is risky for HND Global, as much of the coverage for their promising new ‘Nokia 6’ phone, which had released successfully, has been cannibalised by the 3310’s relaunch.
It is comforting however to know that in a world of technological marvels, there may still be a place for the humble Nokia 3310. I personally now look forward to the relaunch of the Tamagotchi, the Nintendo 64 and the MiniDisc.