Latest thinking from Lauren…
Being born in the 90s, I fondly remember taking part in the Tamagotchi craze. It was my very own virtual pet that didn’t leave my side. I vehemently believed that if I proved I could care for it I’d be allowed a real one. So, imagine my excitement when I read about their revival in Japan last month. The iconic toy that I once spent hours tending to is making its comeback.
That same sentiment has been felt by many this month as we await the release of the new Nokia 3310. In fact, according to Carphone Warehouse pre-registered interest for the device has been tenfold that of any other flagship device this year. It comes equipped with just a phonebook, an SMS service, a 2-megapixel rear camera, a picture gallery and of course, Snake. In the face of smartphones that offer pretty much everything the Nokia doesn’t, the buzz surrounding its revival is remarkable.
We live in an era where the perpetuation of technology has provided us with a device that more or less gives us everything at our fingertips. Smartphones have reshaped the tech industry – offering everything from gaming to music to a high-quality camera. But, why then are some of our beloved 90s gadgets making a comeback? Are we all just nostalgic of a simpler time, or could it just be that ‘retro’ is fashionable now? Is there something more to it?
I read a recent Guardian article that suggested the buzz surrounding the Nokia comes from the fact that we’ve become so accustomed to the smartphone – which looks pretty much the same with each new release – that excitement around them has dissipated somewhat. The same idea can be applied to The Tamagotchi; we’re living in a society where handheld gaming is dominated by millions of apps that we download onto our smartphones or tablets instantaneously. Tamagotchi’s comeback has brought something unique back. It’s a stand-alone device exclusive to being a virtual pet.
The truth is we’ve become so focused on one thing – having a device that offers us everything – we’ve neglected those that aren’t so all encompassing. Both the Tamagotchi and Nokia 3310 were once as ubiquitous as the smartphone is today. Cost wise they were widely accessible and did what they were meant to do and did it in a brilliantly straightforward way.
While I think the appeal of these gadgets will wain again, I think there’s something interesting to learn from the excitement around their return. It suggests there’s still value in devices that can’t do everything – but what they can do, they do exceptionally well. Not everyone wants something that does it all; for many, paying a lower price and getting just what they need is far more appealing.
So, could the anticipation surrounding these revivals be more than just nostalgia sweeping over us? Ironically, are we excited to see something that doesn’t strive to do it all? Something that is widely accessible and delivers exactly what people need – nothing more and nothing less.
With smartphone innovation arguably having reached its zenith, there’s now a real opportunity to re-consider what functions we actually want and need – there’s still significant value in developing devices that don’t offer everything but what they do, they do exceptionally well.