By Eric Auchard
BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) – Nokia’s newly revitalized phone business went back to the future on Sunday, re-introducing a brightly colored version of the classic 3310 talk and text phone, the world’s most popular device in the year 2000.
The new model has bigger screens and is priced at just 49 euros ($52). Its 22 hours of talk time and up to one month of standby time potentially heighten the phone’s appeal as a backup for smartphone users.
Analysts hailed the 3310 launch as a smart retro gambit, but one which could overshadow the Finnish company’s re-entry into the global smartphone market. Nokia also launched four moderately priced smartphones ranging from 139 to 299 euros.
“The love for the brand is immense. It gets a lot of affection from millions and millions of people,” Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told a news conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the telecom industry’s largest annual trade fair.
Once the world’s dominant phonemaker, Nokia in 2014 sold its by-then ailing handset operations to Microsoft for $7 billion, leaving it with its network equipment business and a large patent portfolio.
But last year, it gave the Nokia brand a fresh start by licensing its devices brand to HMD Global, a new company led by ex-Nokia executives and backed by Chinese electronics giant Foxconn <2354.TW>.
Industry analysts say the revived Nokia 3310 has the makings of one of the hit devices of 2017, appealing to older Nokia fans in developed markets looking for an antidote to smartphone overload, while also appealing to younger crowds in emerging markets.
“HMD owns a retro hit and is surfing on the ‘vintage’ hype to re-create buzz around the Nokia brand,” said Thomas Husson, consumer devices analyst at Forrester Research.
The original 3310 sold 126 million phones, the 12th best-selling phone model in history. Nine of the top 12 selling models were produced by Nokia.
It also revives the one-time hit time waster game Snake featured on the original…