As I read the news that Nokia were to be acquired by Microsoft, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened. Despite falling behind smartphone leaders Samsung and Apple in recent years, Nokia used to dominate the mobile phone market, whilst Microsoft always struggled to keep up. Having spent most of my teenage years glued to a plethora of ever more advanced Nokia devices, the brand is very nostalgic to me. Friendships were forged, hearts were broken, hours invested into epic games of snake, all via an inch-wide display of green and black pixels. I remember sitting in a Saturday morning detention after my phone went off in class, blaring out Nokia’s trademark ringtone, Trigger-Happy TV style. Although I haven’t used a Nokia device for years, the sight of one fills me with the same reminiscent delight as finding a childhood toy.
Nokia’s success was borne of the boom in Finnish development of telecommunications equipment after Finnish defense forces demanded tenders in the 1960’s. Nokia pioneered the manufacture of mobile handsets and base stations from that point, churning out products that were increasingly smaller, lighter, more reliable, more versatile and cheaper than their competitors’. By 1985, they had entered the US market and were generally considered as the global leader in mobile phone manufacture throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
Not much is known about Microsoft’s plans for the future of Nokia’s mobile phones, but if they can re-create the loyalty which the brand used to inspire, they are surely on to a winner. As we bid Adieu to Nokia as we know them, let’s take a trip down memory lane via some of their most memorable products.
As said in a 1992 advert for the Nokia 1011; “The Japanese made the smallest, the Americans made the lightest, but the Finns made the best”.
Nokia 1011 – 1992
This was the first mass-produced GSM mobile device. The first digital GSM network marketed Nokia products exclusively, contributing to their subsequent dominance in the market.
Nokia 6110 – 1997
The 6110 represented my first touch-point with Nokia. My friends’ sisters had these and we used to trade our pocket money for games of snake. The best feature? Customisable body-kits. “Hello Kitty” covers and flashing aerials were a must-have circa ’98.
Nokia 7110 – 1999
The 7110 was the first mobile phone with WAP capabilities, and is considered one of the first true media phones, kick starting the race to get mobiles on-line. Plus, when you flicked open the keypad cover, you felt like Neo in The Matrix.
Nokia 3210 – 1999; Nokia 3310 – 2000
With 160 million units sold, the Nokia 3210 remains one of the best-selling mobile phones in history. With it and its successors (3330, 3310) still favourites today among the “I only need a mobile for texts and calls” folk, these models have achieved something of a cult status. I genuinely believe these products to be the most durable, reliable mobiles EVER, as I still possess a working model which I tried smashing to pieces 12 years ago in order to get an upgrade.
Nokia 5210 – 2002
The pinnacle of manliness to a teenage boy, the 5210 became notorious as “The Indestructible Phone”. It was waterproof, shatterproof, idiotproof… a playground favourite was to throw it as hard as possible against the ground to test its bounciness. For some reason the thermometer featured in this device wasn’t continued in future models…
Nokia 7600 – 2003
At launch, the 7600 was the smallest and lightest dual band (GSM and 3G) colour screen mobile phone. Targeted at the fashion-conscious, I personally consider it to be not only one of the most unattractive phones I’ve ever seen but also incredibly awkward to use. Nokia have released a bout of oddly-designed handsets in an unsuccessful bid to revolutionise typical mobile phone design (see the space-age N-Gage, the bulbous 6630, and the leather-clad 7380).
Nokia 5800 “Xpress Music” – 2009