Nokia hopes the new 3310 will fly off the shelves, and judging by the palpable excitement that’s in the air about it, it’s not an unjustified expectation. A lot of customers are expected to make a beeline for the devices, but before we go further, let’s see if they can be broadly classified into a few segments. Today, it was announced that HMD Global will be making the Nokia 3310 available in India before any of their other smartphones.
First would be the ones who have grown up in a time when the first Nokia 3310 was at its legendary best; the users whose first device was, most likely, a Nokia 3310. The second group of users would include those who were born and grew up in the smartphone age but have been impressed by the memes that they’ve come across while scrolling down social media apps on their smartphones. The third would be the category of people who want a secondary phone, or maybe even a primary, that is simple enough and yet highly functional, and would last for a long, long time on a single full charge.
There’s one thing that would be common across all these people – the love for the brand. However, if that’s all that Nokia is banking upon for the success of the Nokia 3310, we think that it may have lost a rather big opportunity. These users have come to expect much more from a phone, such as working within an app ecosystem and make use of the best (read fastest) internet resources. There are some apps that have undeniably become a part of a phone user’s life, at least in urban areas, along with 4G connectivity. The new Nokia 3310 offers neither. The promise of a classic reinvented for the modern age seems farfetched and here’s why.
The Lack of Social Media
How will you use Snapchat without a front facing camera? Or browse Facebook on that tiny 2.4 inch colour screen, which is NOT a touchscreen. We reached out to Facebook to see if they would be developing an app to go with the Nokia 3310, but unfortunately, they declined to comment at the moment. Not surprising, as the company would need to see whether the phone’s sales number match the hype around it. We’re not sure how you’ll create your Instagram masterpieces with the 2 megapixel camera, or browse other people’s work on a 2.4 inch screen. Trading photos and videos on WhatsApp on the Nokia 3310’s 2G connection should be a total blast! This is of course provided WhatsApp decides to release an app for the S30+ operating system that powers the Nokia 3310. You may remember that WhatsApp had recently announced that they wouldn’t support old devices anymore, which included any phone with the S60 operating system.
A Roadblock for Digital India
Post demonetization, a large chunk of the population turned to mobile wallets to conduct their transactions. While some semblance of normalcy has returned with respect to the cash flow, people have just started getting used to conducting some of their business on mobile wallets. Current digital wallets only advertise as being available on smartphones (iOS, Android and even Windows Phone), however, PayTM does have a toll-free number you can call on to initiate payments (if you’re on a feature phone) but you still need to use a smartphone to initially setup your account. If you rely heavily on mobile wallets, the Nokia 3310 will not make it easy for you to continue the habit.
A Kink in your Dating Life
Let’s face it, dating apps are a crucial thing for all those single (shame on you if you’re not single and still using dating apps). Tinder is by far one of the most popular dating apps amongst Indians, but the homegrown apps like Woo and TrulyMadly have also gained favour amongst the youth of today. All these apps rely on locating matches close to you, which relies on GPS. The Nokia 3310 has no GPS chip, which means the apps can’t tell where you are, forget locating anyone close to you. Oh and the fact that the most popular dating apps are only available for iOS and Android (sorry Windows Phone). We reached out to the big three for a comment, but neither could be reached in a timely fashion. While the lack of a GPS chip would make it difficult to run a dating app on the Nokia 3310, it is possible the companies could find a work-around, but the question is, would the returns justify the costs? Tinder did announce Tinder Online earlier this year, bringing left and right swipes to desktop browsers but would this also come to the Nokia 3310? We think not.
Dude where’s my Cab?
Love hailing an Uber or Ola? Good luck getting that ride with a phone that doesn’t have a GPS service. Ola declined to comment on whether they would be developing a solution that would allow users of the Nokia 3310 specifically to hail a cab from their service. Uber could not be reached for comment, however, they did launch a “dial an Uber” service last year in 29 cities across India, but we never really heard much of it after that. Even if you did manage to hail an Uber or an Ola using your Nokia 3310, payment could still pose a problem due to a lack of mobile wallet app on the phone. We truly take for granted just how integrated the mobile wallets are with cab services (and many others like Zomato or Swiggy).
Reimagined for the…Not Future
With no 4G connectivity, and without an app ecosystem that the people have now either become accustomed to or are raring to go out and try, the Nokia 3310 defeats the purpose of being a modern classic. It could have been the device to bridge all sorts of technological gaps. Nokia made a very touching film and screened it at the launch event, showing how the new devices and the company are supposed to connect people. It was a powerful film and reminded us of Nokia’s brilliant tagline, ‘Connecting People.’ However, this is the year 2017, and films can connect people only if they are accessible to the people. And that’s done by telephony and the internet. That’s done by social media. And all those need apps. Without those, we are no longer connecting people.