ANALYSIS: The Nokia 3310 is a smart strategy to draw interest to mobile revival but will it have a long term impact?
The Nokia 3310 is set to be the story of Mobile World Congress (MWC). That alone is justification for HMD Global, which has licensed the iconic Finnish brand, to revive the handset and tap into people’s nostalgia.
The device known as the 3310 shares some similarities with the one released in 2000, but it has been updated for 2017 with a colour screen, Internet capabilities and a visual refresh. But its form factor, numeric keypad and hotkeys owe much to its predecessor. Oh, and it has Snake.
The launch wasn’t unexpected. The news had been leaked weeks before and the excitement it generated was obvious. It was even one of the stories on BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat programme. Not bad for a supposedly dead brand.
Read More: Tales in tech history – Nokia 3310
Nokia 3310 revival
Of course, much of the public might not even be aware of Nokia’s recent politics and might not even care. HMD Global probably don’t care either. What is important is that people are talking about Nokia and know it’s making new phones.
It’s a clever strategy. The Nokia 3210 and 3310 were phenomenally successful phones and for many people their first introduction to the world of mobility. They immediately evoke memories of indestructability and long battery life, qualities which modern smartphone are lacking and ones that the new 3310 promises.
There are also less logical reasons. Just as Pokémon Go awoke strong feelings for a game so fondly remembered, Nokia is doing the same with mobile phones, possibly for the first time. And Nintendo’s NES Mini shows that people will spend money for a taste of the good old days.
The Nokia 3310 costs €49 which makes it an attractive purchase for those needing a temporary, indestructible phone, and the brand recognition could make it an ideal phone for those who need a new one but aren’t keen on a smartphone.
After all, after it was surpassed by Apple and Samsung as the world’s largest manufacturer of smartphones, Nokia continued to be the biggest mobile phone maker for a significant period after, such was the quality of its feature phones.
Will it be a success
The Nokia 3310 might not even be profitable, but the PR buzz generated could be seen as a worthy investment for a company looking to make an impact on the Android market. However there is a danger the phone could overshadow its Nokia 3, 5 and 6 devices according to some observers.
“The launch of the new re-imagined Nokia 3310 feature phone threatens to overshadow HMD’s modern smartphones,” warned Ian Fogg, an analyst at HIS. “HMD must avoid the Nokia brand being seen as purely a nostalgia brand.”
The trajectories of Nokia and BlackBerry have been remarkably similar. Both were dominant players in their field undone by aggressive competitors and strategic missteps. Both have exited direct phone manufacturing for other areas – Nokia in networks and BlackBerry in software – and licensed their strong brands to other companies. And both still mean something in emerging markets.
The challenge for Nokia will be to make an impact in more established markets where it used to rule the roost.
“HMD needs to revive the Nokia brand in classically strong but now weak markets such as Western Europe,” added Fogg. “To do this, HMD must emphasize the strong industrial design of its range, leverage open market channels for these keenly priced models while also re-building operator relationships.
“HMD is not old Nokia. It is a start-up with a start-up’s ambition. But, it has an existing brand to provide a kick start. Old Nokia is extremely keen for HMD to succeed. If it does, Nokia will likely take a large ownership stake or buy HMD outright. HMD has a 10 year license, but we will know within a couple of years, but not in a couple of months, whether it will succeed. These models are just a start for HMD.”
Anecdotal evidence suggests the 3310 might be a success but even if it isn’t, people know Nokia is back.
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