I can’t tell if this is a trend with other generations, but something I’ve noticed with my generation is that we have a really big thing for nostalgia. You can pry our 90’s cartoons, consoles, and live action Disney remakes from our cold, dead hands. Lucky for us millennials, we have yet another nostalgic comeback on the horizon for 2017: the “return” of Nokia smartphones.
I use the term “return” as loosely as possible, though, because it’s not exactly the iconic Nokia that we remember. Instead, it’s a new “rebuilt” version of Nokia. A firm called HMD Global, founded by ex-Nokia executives, has acquired the rights to sell Nokia phones and is teaming up with what’s left of Nokia to make such a move possible, rumored to begin as early as 2017. So far, so good.
It is hard to tell how things will be for a Nokia return, though. Looking at the roadmap for “Nokia brand’s return to smartphones”, we can see that virtual reality and digital health are an important part of this resurgence over the next couple of years. Since both features are becoming increasingly important to have in a smartphone, it seems like a good start; however, with Nokia being a returning brand to mobile, I think people will expect to see some old Nokia charm along with new innovations. In short, new Nokia phones have a delicate balance to maintain to stand out from the fierce competition that has continued to develop in its absence.
But the “old Nokia charm” is also what gives it a leg up on the competition. Nokia mobile designs are well-known for being quirky, some of which have pushed mobile innovations forward, while others (because there were a lot of weird Nokia phones) are simply a reminder of designs that just didn’t work. Nokia phones have also been stereotyped as sturdy, frequently appearing in memes exaggerating their durability.
Even when we get to more modern times and look at how Nokia has fared in the smartphone industry, the only thing that really seemed to stand in the way of Nokia’s potential was the company’s choice to go with the struggling Windows Phone platform instead of Android. The Nokia smartphones themselves – the Lumia smartphones, anyway – were actually quite well-received with its bright colors and notoriously sturdy Nokia design. Additionally, the PureView cameras on the Lumia line were top of the line for a period of time, and some of them still manage to outperform 2016 flagships. Who knows where Nokia could be today if they had decided to go with Android instead.
Dwelling on where Nokia could have been if only they had made that one decision differently is fun, but pointless. Fortunately, we have a reason to hope for a better Nokia in the future. Will new Nokia (Newkia?) smartphones be able to wow us in the way that they used to? It’s certainly possible. After all, Motorola was able to dip out of the mobile scene for a while and come back with a vengeance (for a time, anyway). On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that Nokia will struggle. BlackBerry – another company that one could argue is equally as iconic as Nokia – has been struggling to get people to adopt the BlackBerry brand on a new platform (Android), so it’s a bad idea to assume that Nokia could succeed on brand recognition alone. Something more is needed.
It is rumored that we will get our first glimpse at new Nokia devices during MWC 2017, which is just a few months away. Only then will we reasonably be able to predict what the future holds for a Nokia resurgence. As somebody who adored Lumias but wasn’t a huge fan of Windows Phone, I try to remain cautiously optimistic.
Readers, what are your thoughts on a Nokia resurgence? Are you excited for the return of Nokia, or are you holding back on being too hopeful due to changes made to the brand? Let us know in the comments below!