Ciarán Busby examines whether consumers’ want a bit less when it comes to technology
IN February, HMD Global, a Finnish company with the exclusive brand rights to Nokia, unveiled a range of brand new Nokia mobile phones. Among the new line-up of mid-range smartphones such as the Nokia 6, Nokia 5, and Nokia 3, HMD also announced the resurrection of the beloved nostalgia-evoking Nokia 3310; a mobile phone, which prior to its discontinuation in 2005, had over 126 million units in circulation around the globe.
Although internet users around the world were especially pleased with the announcement, a fact derived from how Google Trends analysed the mentions of the brands re-launch on social media, they may have been too quick to react. With the most up-to-date details of the hardware released to the public, HMD may have made a terrible mistake.
Unfortunately, the new Nokia 3310 only has a 2.5G connection, a huge step back from the 4G speeds to which we have become accustomed. While some consumers may not care about being constantly connected to the internet with their phone, they may be horrified to discover that 2.5G connectivity is not supported in many key markets for HMD such as the US, Canada, Australia, and Singapore, as they have shut down the ageing networks in favour of higher speed ones.
This is of course a major problem for some. However, it is more likely that the phone was launched for one major reason: publicity. Launching the handheld, not by itself, but alongside three new Nokia phones has propelled the brand back into the public spotlight, a strategy some assumed may have been Nintendo’s goal with the release of the free-to-play Pokémon Go mobile game last year.
[Consumers] may be horrified to discover that 2.5G connectivity is not supported in many key markets
A stroke of marketing genius is the only way to describe this strategy, propelling the brand awareness of Nokia and also highlighting the newer entrants to the mobile market.
On the other hand, the resurrected handheld may also act as an alternative to a smartphone for conscientious hermits eager to leave the digital world behind them, festival goers or even people who are fed up of the lower battery life and reliability of modern phones.
The Nokia 3310 has remained a spectacle for the masses to reference the capabilities of handheld battery life over the years. And this re-launch is no exception to the sentiment. The phone boasts over a 31 day standby time, and more than 22 hours continuous talk time. Comparatively, Apple’s iPhone 7 indicates not an hour or day range, but claims only that it is the “longest iPhone battery life yet”.
Moreover, with the disaster of Samsung’s exploding Galaxy Note 7 last year, and some reports of iPhones acting the same, the horror of having a phone’s CPU overworked to the point of the battery exploding is fast becoming reality. With major airlines outright banning the Galaxy Note 7, consumers’ trust in the technology could be decimated.
Observant consumers of mobile tech have also spotted that there may in fact be a built-in obsolescence in products currently.
Furthermore, the reach of technology and the internet in our daily lives has instilled fear in some people. For those readers who are avid Netflix bingers, they will be well versed in the predictions of Black Mirror, a series that delves into the bleakest of societal futures focusing on technological dependence. Its clear from the title, Black Mirror, a reference to the screen of a device, the ubiquity of technology has made some people more dubious as to the future of technology and the implications it poses for society.
Observant consumers of mobile tech have also spotted that there may in fact be a built-in obsolescence in products currently. Products are now designed to only last a certain amount of time before needing to be replaced, artificially shortening the product life cycle in order for the specific company to generate more revenue by releasing updated products on an annual basis.
With the likes of Apple releasing a new iPhone model religiously every September, users are forced to upgrade their device to a newer model once older models are no longer supported by either Apple or third party app developers. Furthermore, some commentators have even suggested battery lives, rendering rates, internet connections, and RAM power deteriorate after the end of the support date.
All-in-all, the announcement of the Nokia 3310 was a stroke of genius by the marketing department of HMD Global, successfully dominating the news feeds and headlines of the world with another Android device press conference which most likely would have been glossed over without impact.
Whether or not the stand-alone product itself will be successful is a completely different question, but at least it still has Snake.