Finnish tech company Nokia yesterday revealed a revamped version of its hugely popular Nokia 3310 feature phone.
The phone was unveiled during a company press event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, as part of the brand’s re-entry into the mobile space.
The new Nokia 3310 will be built under license by a company called HMD Global, which was founded by former Nokia workers but has been backed by significant funding from Chinese electronics manufacturer Foxconn.
Unlike the original 3310 which was released in 2000, the new version of the device contains a color screen, thinner form factor, and a battery which can last close to a month while on standby.
Nonetheless, it still retains the same physical buttons and a basic operating system, making it less functional than contemporary smartphones.
Despite this, the phone should still see considerable sales in the developing world where such ‘feature phones’ are very popular due to their affordability.
This pool of customers, however, is in constant decline, as the price of low-end smartphones declines every year.
Within this environment, the unveiling of the ‘new’ Nokia 3310 was likely more of a marketing stunt than a real business proposition. Concurrently HMD Global is also producing a new Nokia-branded smartphone which it sees as the future of its business.
The end of a manufacturing paradigm
One of the major selling points of the 3310 was its perceived durability. While modern smartphones easily shatter when dropped or are damaged by water, the Nokia 3310, and was comparatively indestructible.
This ruggedness along with its basic interface made it perfect for use throughout the developing world.
In many ways, however, it represents the end of the era of devices built to last. Not long after it was released, forced obselescence became the go-to manufacturing and marketing strategy for phone-makers, resulting in the fragile phones of today.
While there have been attempts to recreate this paradigm in the modern day (most notably through modular phones) these have so far been unsuccessful.
Due to intense completion in the market, manufacturing a smartphone as durable as the 3310 is simply a losing business strategy.