Does it seem possible that Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) could be back in the news over a phone launch — or a phone relaunch? Isn’t this 2017 rather than 2007? It seems in the post-merger world of Alcatel-Lucent that perhaps Nokia might consider dusting off a page from its past, but this may be a page for a company named HMD, now that it has acquired the exclusive 10-year license to market Nokia phones.
This will be a blast from the past for many of the mobile phone users from back before there was a proliferation of smartphones. There is talk that a reboot of the Nokia 3310 might be coming to the market.
Before thinking of the return of pre-modern smartphones, Venture Beat’s Evan Blass reported that Finnish manufacturer HMD Global Oy, with the exclusive rights to market phones under the Nokia brand, is planning to announce several phones at the upcoming Mobile World Congress late in February. This is said to include a modernized version of the old Nokia 3310 phone.
Many smartphone users will not remember the Nokia 3310. Those phone users in their mid-to-late 30s and older will remember it. It seems unlikely that most consumers will want to return to the old brick phones, but this might be a nostalgic backup phone. Besides being an incredibly durable phone, the battery life was the envy of its time.
HMD did not formally announce the news yet, but the company said back in early January:
HMD is developing an exciting new consumer centric product range which will focus on innovation, quality and experience, alongside the iconic Nokia mobile phone attributes of design, robustness, and reliability.
It is important to consider that HMD is already back in the world of old phones, what now get called dumb-phones. Now maybe this product launch is not as outrageous as it seems on the surface.
There is another angle here. If Nokia has already licensed this out to HMD, it could be that Nokia receives very little going forward. If this is barely north of a $60 phone, and if its target is Europe as was suggested, how much could it matter on a licensing basis?
There is perhaps one key statistic that may matter about the Nokia 3310, although it may have to get a lot more features (like a color screen) even as a backup phone. The GSM phone launched in the year 2000, and Nokia later claimed that it had sold 126 million of those handsets on a worldwide basis over the years.
For investors thinking about Nokia, perhaps they should keep considering advanced networking products in their projections. Why does this feel like a call bring that deactivated Palm Treo phone out for that nostalgic feeling?