MWC 2017 showed us the power of nostalgia

0 Posted by - 5th March 2017 - Technology

Millennials may recognize the Nokia 3310 from the "Indestructible Nokia" meme, but us older folks will more likely remember it as the first cell phone we ever used. Here at MWC 2017, Nokia revived the iconic handset, giving it a 2-inch color display, a "smart" operating system and a 2-megapixel camera. Yes, those specs are atrocious in this generation, but thanks to the power of nostalgia, no one cared.

Indeed, the Nokia 3310 is the biggest, most hyped news out of MWC2017. And it’s not the only old-school, throwback gadget to launch here at the show. Companies are clearly looking to the past for inspiration and capitalizing on your love of the good ol’ days.


Another revived brand that drew the attention of longtime fans was BlackBerry. After declaring it would no longer make phones, the company decided to license its name and software to Chinese electronics maker TCL. At the show, TCL officially unveiled the KEYone, which packs the BlackBerry physical keyboard that fans love, as well as a suite of the security and communications software that the brand is known for. The buttons on the new handset feel comfortable to type on, and might take a bit of relearning to get used to, but they feel almost exactly the same as those on older models.

Samsung also decided to make an on-trend announcement by teaming up with German pencil maker Staedtler to produce an old-school version of its S Pen stylus. The new pen looks just like Staedtler’s classic Noris HB pencil, but in more muted colors. Unlike Samsung’s original, the new stylus doesn’t have a button on its side to trigger Air Command, but its familiar design will remind many of us of our childhoods.

Of course, capitalizing on nostalgia isn’t new. The entertainment industry has been doing it forever with reboot after reboot of popular franchises. It’s not even a new trend in tech, either. Just last year, Motorola made it look as if it was bringing back the original RAZR flip handset. Sadly, it turned out to be just a ploy to get people to watch its Moto X livestream.

Unlike that marketing stunt, the products at MWC are real and will actually go on sale soon. Nokia’s 3310 revival also appears to be well thought-out, highlighting fan-favorite features like long battery life, a durable body and the T-9 keypad. You can even play Snake on it, albeit a full-color remaster that’s not as fun as the black-and-white classic.


But why are companies doing this? The smartphone industry is stagnating, and manufacturers are clearly struggling to come up with new ways to stand out. Look at what LG and Huawei are doing: One is switching to a bizarre new screen ratio, the other is turning to Pantone’s iconic color selection to stand out. Those features are pretty much meaningless — they don’t excite or change the smartphone experience in any serious way. Bringing back a beloved phone model or a popular feature is a (cheap and reliable) way to generate hype.

Perhaps the best part about all the new-old tech that’s shown up at MWC is how they’ve blended today’s technology with the good things we remember about the past. The new Nokia 3310 looks almost identical to the original, except it’s lost weight and now comes in some bright colors. The BlackBerry’s keyboard is springy and makes typing easy, but it also adds nifty new features like 52 one-touch shortcut keys and acts as a touchpad.

The Nokia 3310’s success, at least in generating hype, is sure to spur other tech titans to try and emulate it. That means we could see more old-school gadgets come back from the dead with new, updated specs. I don’t know about you, but I’m already excited about #nostalgia #oldschool #throwbacktech. Time to plug my fax machine back in and dig out my pager.

Click here to catch up on the latest news from MWC 2017. via #CIO, #Technology