It has been reported that Nokia are rereleasing an updated version of the "world's best selling phone", the Nokia 3310. The phone has apparently sold over 126Million units worldwide, which is more than both the iPhone 4 & 4s sales combined.
"The Brick" which it has often been referred to, will be priced at about £50 and marketed as a backup phone for nostalgic smartphone users. I can see this phone being quite popular on rerelease, but I feel Nokia must be in a bad place to remodel such a basic phone over 17 years later. Nokia dominated the phone market during the pre-iPhone era, where did it all go wrong?
Nokia appears to be embracing the "back to basic" trend by remodelling the 3310. Maybe it's because this is what Nokia do best?
I remember my first phone, back in 2003, was the Nokia 3200. It was such a great little phone that provided the all basic capabilities of what a phone could achieve along with a few extra quirky features. The transparent case allowed for creating personalised covers. I remember cutting out a graphic from an old magazine and using it as my phone's identity. Nokia were one of the first companies to successfully be able to market a mobile phone as a fashion accessory.
Another vivid Nokia phone in my memory is the Nokia N-gage. At the time of its release, the N-gage was a big deal! It was Nokia's first attempt to lure gamers away from the Game Boy by including mobile phone functionality. Of course, it was a complete failure. The layout of the buttons made it very difficult to navigate and because of its taco-like shape, the N-gage adopted the mocking name "Taco Phone".
Nokia spotted a gap in the market to developed the N-gage. Gamers would often carry both mobile phones and Gameboys in their pockets at the same time. Combining these two features before the existence of a touch screen was a button logistics nightmare! I feel Nokia was too caught up in the concept but the technology for an easy user interface just wasn't advanced enough for the time.
Nokia kept experimenting with some ridiculous mobile phones. They stepped away from the simple interface which made the 3310 so great and created overly complex hardware in the attempt to become an innovative company
Even thinking about how to operate some of these phones gives me anxiety! Nokia was definitely, at its heart, more of a hardware company rather than a software company. They failed to act on the importance of software and therefore, were years behind the market in developing their first smartphones.
From 2011, Nokia developed smartphones to run the Windows operating system. The Windows user interface was a disaster. The system proved to be too glitchy and buggy to ever compete with the newly established smartphone giants of Apple and Android.
As a result, Nokia are one of the few companies still releasing a wide range of "buttoned" phones each year.
But there seems to be a change on the horizon! In January of this year, Nokia released their first ever Android phone, the Nokia 6. Reviews so far have been good and it is a strong challenger in the medium priced smartphone market.
It'll be interesting to see if the "back to basics" approach can save Nokia's reputation as a brand. I feel the release of 3310 could be a publicity stunt to remind the world Nokia still exist before their attack on the smartphone market.
Looking back, it's a bit staggering that such an influential company could lose sight of the importance of great design. The user interface and simplicity seem to be the key to developing a phone for inclusive design. Just look at any iPhone ever.