MWC 2016: Nokia – The retro revival

Nokia Mobile World Congress 2016

The humble Nokia, the Chuck Norris of the mobile phone industry. Is Thor’s hammer made from a Nokia 3210? Was Hiroshima really just a 6320 falling from a second story apartment? Did Nokia create a phone battery that lasted longer than a day? Wait, that last one is actually true.

Unfortunately, just like a certain football team, Nokia have fallen from the top of their game, but like all mighty warriors, they refuse to lay down and admit defeat. At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Nokia confirmed they will be selling smartphones once again, just two years on from the somewhat ill-fated Microsoft buy out in 2014.

Pop Quiz: How old are Nokia as  a company? And for bonus points what did they make or do back then?

Back in the nineties, Nokia rose to power with iconic phones such the 3210 and 3310. Pioneering features such as Xpress-on covers, ridiculous battery lives and of course the great mobile innovation of all time; Snake. For the nostalgia alone, take a quick break and play snake on your smartphone or in your browser.

It was all rosy until 2007, when everything changed. The iPhone was launched, a momentous event in mobile history which would redefine the market for years to come and signal the end of an era for the Finnish powerhouse. After years of failing to keep the pace with the likes of Apple, Samsung and LG, in 2011 Nokia teamed up with Microsoft and ditched the Symbian OS along the way. This move failed to stop the rot and just three years later the mobile division of Nokia was purchased by Microsoft.

As a part of this deal, Nokia were not allowed to create their own phones until the second half of 2016. CEO Rajeev Suri has said at MWC 2016 that the Finnish company will indeed return, but now as we know it. While working on Nokia OZO, the company’s ultra-premium VR camera programme, Nokia will not produce handsets, opting instead to license the brand to manufacturers, with Suri stating Nokia would rather wait for the right partner instead of going with the highest bidder; note lessons learned from the Microsoft efforts.

Exactly who will step forward for a partnership is unknown, but who ever it is will likely have to sacrifice creative controls to Nokia. That might be enough to rule out the most interesting parties, but following Apple’s stumble from the top of the podium recently, could you imagine an iPhone with Nokia durability and battery. One can dream.

By the way, Nokia is 150 years old and started out in the forestry and power industries before shaping the mobile elite.

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Junior Editor and host of the Goosed Podcast, Jon is passionate about phones, design and everything tech. Having joined the team in 2015 he now leads the entire Goosed podcast channel. Ask him about 3D printing or Disney movies. Read more by Jon.