Approaching the display of phones at the Nokia Event Tuesday night at the Soho Mews venue, I pick up the one on the far left -- a massive, black, brick-like device. “Remember the movie Wall Street, with the scene of Michael Douglas on this phone on a beach in the Hamptons?” remarks another tech-reporter to me. I look up at a life-size cutout of the villainous businessman Gordon Gekko barking to brokers on his bulky Nokia Mobira Cityman 100.
The point, I suspect, is that Nokia has come a long way since then, design-wise. After all, the company has gathered this group of journalists over cocktails, mushroom risotto bites and brownie squares to listen while its chief designer, Alastair Curtis, talks about the company’s current focus on design. His emphasis is usability. Exhibit A is the Nokia E71, a business phone with qwerty keypad that’s launching next quarter. Exhibit B: the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, an iPhone copycat for the younger, music-affiliated audience.
These phones, and today’s event, represent a renewed push into the U.S. Nokia has not thrived here lately, especially compared with Asia and Europe, where the company is hailed as the leading mobile brand. Nokia’s most popular phone ever, the 1100, wasn’t even launched in the States. One interesting new selling point: The phones are made out of 85% recycled materials.