‘The good old days’ – a common phrase that makes us hanker after our past. When life was simple and things were better…
Nostalgia is an emotive and powerful marketing tool. Dare we utter the phrases “Make America great again” or, “I want my country back”? Both the Trump and the pro-Brexit campaigns utilised nostalgia to ask voters to look back to supposedly better times, promising to take us all back there again where we felt safe, happy and successful.
It’s easy to see why these sentiments work as part of a political agenda, but to see nostalgia in technology is not something you would expect quite so much. Who wants technology to regress? Aren’t we always striving for NEW tech ideas? Ways to make our lives easier and more fun? Absolutely we are, but the us from 25 years ago misses our ZX Spectrum and LPs and technology companies know this and are making the most of our desire for the old days.
Through our rose-tinted spectacles we are currently witnessing the re-release of several tech products that are guaranteed to give us the warm fuzzies. The most reported of these nostalgic releases is the classic mobile phone from the dawn of the millennium; the Nokia 3310.
The handset has features such as a comparatively low res screen, 2G connectivity, almost identical 2000 design, and the snake game, which seems to be the most sought after feature of all! (One minute we want 3D gaming, the next, we want to guide a single line around a tiny screen…) But it works – Estimated sales are through the roof and it’s mostly because it makes us feel warm inside – there is no danger of the 3310 replacing our beautiful, sleek iPhone 7, so this is purely for old time’s sake, and maybe a longer battery life.
If you’ve ever told someone considerably younger than you that vinyl sounds better than today’s crystal clear downloads, you are being indulged by the likes of Sony and Denon with the reintroduction of their beautiful turntables. Some you can get as ‘seperates’ just like the 80’s and 90’s, others are stylish leather covered cases that open up to reveal the record player with vintage style touches. Record sales are soaring, as we all slip our tortoise shells back on and get the 85 into town to HMV to buy vinyl versions of albums we’ve already got on CD and in iTunes, to play on our turntable because, well, it really DOES sound better.
I can understand records coming back – they’re romantic, the artwork is impressive, they look brilliant on the shelf, but cassettes? Could they really be bringing tapes back? And if they do, will anyone other than Tracey Barlow be interested in buying them? The surprising answer is yes. Apparently, business is booming for cassette factories producing limited edition tapes from artists such as Nelly Fertado, Metallica and The Flaming Lips. So it seems we should prepare for the reintroduction of the Boombox and Sony Walkman too.
Gaming and photography are also strapping into the Delorean and speeding up to 88mph with the comeback of Pac-Man on iOS and Android from Hipster Whale, instant printed pictures return in the form of Polaroid and even Super 8mm video recorders from Kodak are back on the scene.
It’s all quite irresistible, and of course harmless fun to indulge ourselves with things that bring back memories that make us happy. And so long as we agree not to campaign for the reintroduction of fax machines or dial up, I think we can all live happily together in the future with delightful smatterings of the past.