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The ‘Nokia’ 3310 isn’t a Nokia

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March 1st, 2017

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Phil Esposito / The Verge

I'm so sick of nostalgia as a ploy for profit. From the “Make America Great Again” slogan, to the endless Star Wars and X-Men movies, to the Fiat 500 and Mini Cooper. We’ve become a world obsessed with looking backward for lazy sources of joy.

And now... the “Nokia” 3310.

Don’t get me wrong, the 3310 might be a fine featurephone. I wouldn’t know, I haven’t used it. My colleagues on the ground at the big MWC show tell me it’s a “fun phone” and “solid for what it is,” which is basically a gussied-up “Nokia” 150 launched without notice in December. No, what bugs me is the audacious brand exploitation behind it.

The “Nokia” 3310 is no more a Nokia device than a Polaroid TV is a Polaroid. HMD Global Oy bought the right to use the Nokia brand and is now exploiting your longing to relive the “good ol' days” for profit. A time when most of the world’s cellphones were made by stoic Finns and coffee came from a can. The 3310 unveiled this week, however, was not built by the fine people of Salo, Finland who were laid off during the great Elopcalypse. The revamped 3310 is no heir to the inventive Nokia culture cultivated in Espoo by former CEO Jorma Jaakko Ollila. This so-called “Nokia” 3310 is no more a Nokia than the Kodak Ektra is the brainchild of George Eastman and Henry A. Strong. Nokia phones aren't making a comeback. The only thing returning is the Nokia logo slapped on a bunch of commodified rectangles as part of a brand licensing strategy.

The insufferable Hollywood and automotive retreads of the last decade have mired their respective industries in a morass of wistful mediocrity. Are we now witnessing the first pangs of a cellphone nostalgia trend? What comes after the HMD Global Oy 3310? The Lenovo RAZR? The LG Pre? The Steam Thunderbolt? Nostalgia's the card companies play after innovation dies and the patent lawsuits have all dried up. Is that really a business practice you want to support with your hard-earned monies?

I’ll happily review the new 3310 and all new HMD Global Oy phones on their merits. But I won’t give them a free emotional pass just because they sport a blocky N O K I A logo. You shouldn’t either.

I really don't get nostalgia. I, like most of you, it seems, long for originality; for invention and creativity. I get excited when something’s unique and enhances my life in new and interesting ways. I especially don’t understand nostalgia when it's applied to consumer electronics because technology doesn't age as well as Harrison Ford. I don't want to return to the Commodore computer in the age of the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. I don't want vacuum tubes that have to warm up in my TV when a flat 4K HDR TV will boot Netflix nearly instantly. And I sure as shit won’t be placated by Snake on a Series 30+ featurephone when the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone whatever are right around the corner.

The Zune celebrated its 10th birthday a few months ago. Do we, the consumers, really want Microsoft to believe we’re chomping at the bit for a diamond anniversary brown Zune 30?

No. Hell, no.


Nokia 3310 First Look