Nokia 3310 retro buzz masks mobile industry’s wait for 5G

One of the most popular things to come out of the recent Mobile World Congress 2017 was the new Nokia 3310, a revisionist take on Nokia’s classic feature phone. But while some indulged in nostalgia, others in the industry were desperately hoping for word on when 5G network capability would become a reality.

The original Nokia 3310 was one of the iconic handsets of the early 2000s and is fondly remembered for a number of features, including Snake, the in-built game that came with the phone.

The new version of the phone retains many of the feature phone functionalities, with a few modern upgrades. It comes at a bargain basement price of €49 ($68) for its release in the European market.

That there was so much excitement about the Nokia 3310 redux points to the general restlessness in the mobile space.

Read more: Nokia breathes new life into classic 3310 “brick phone”, but will it function in Australia?

The hype associated with the release of a new iPhone or even a Samsung Galaxy just a few years ago has dissipated. It’s been replaced by analysts and consumers shrugging ‘meh’ and asking when we’re going to see something new, something truly revolutionary from the leading smartphone makers.

The bar was set high in the early years of smartphone releases and the makers have plateaued in terms of what they are offering the public. Wearables like smartwatches certainly haven’t taken off to the extent some in the industry had hoped, so the pressure remains on the likes of Apple and Samsung to lead the way with something novel and innovative in phones.

Of course it takes two to tango in the mobile industry: the makers and the networks. At the moment, the makers seem very much to be treading water, waiting for the network infrastructure and standards to be put in place for the rollout of 5G technology.

5G networks promise to deliver peak speeds of around 1 gigabit per second, but in terms of average usage, it will probably deliver speeds of between 100 and 150 MB per second, which is still a significant upgrade on 4G.

The general consensus on when the rollout will happen is around 2020, with rumours that South Korea (ever the leaders in network tech and provision) will have 5G in place by 2019. This is despite a lot of the hype at MWC 2017 making it seem that 5G is just around the corner, or already here.

For smartphone and device makers, the rollout of 5G can’t come soon enough, and the same can be said for those in the marketing and advertising industry who are pinning their hopes on augmented and virtual reality (VR) being the quantum leap technology that will enable even greater brand experiences and engagement.

The speed of 5G networks will allow VR experiences to become far more accessible and a lot more appealing to a broader audience than just gamers. Mobile devices still appear to be the conduit of choice for the VR experience, powering and complementing other devices such as headsets.

However, 5G will power more than just VR, it will also bring the promise of the Internet of Things closer to reality, as CNET analyst Roger Cheng points out:

“But it’s not just about speed for speed’s sake. While the move from 3G to 4G LTE was about faster connections, the evolution to 5G is so much more. The combination of speed, responsiveness and reach could unlock the full capabilities of other hot trends in technology, offering a boost to self-driving cars, drones, virtual reality and the internet of things.”

Between now and 2020, we’ll be seeing far more from industry analysts about what 5G can deliver, as well as hearing more and more about the type of content that will be developed to make use of these new speeds. Smart digital marketers and businesses will be starting to plot a long-term strategy on what they can do to get the most out of 5G when it does finally roll around.

Fi Bendall is chief executive of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award. 


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