The Hottest New Trend in Mobile Phones? Get Ready for This: RETRO

Photo of Motorola StarTACYogi Berra once said, “It’s like Deja-Vu, all over again!” A report out of Japan tells of a hot new trend in Europe. Apparently, the latest trend in mobile phones…is consumers going retro. Seem counter-intuitive? It’s even a bit of a fashion statement…the story originates out of Paris, France!

See why retro phones are selling like crazy in Europe…you won’t believe how much they cost!…

The report appeared in the Jiji Press in The Japan Times, but was originally reported out of their Paris, France office. According to the report, retailers can not keep up with demand for retro mobile phones…in what appears to be a bit of a smartphone backlash.

Why would today’s consumers want to acquire yesterday’s mobile phones? The answer to that is…well, multiple reasons. Users say things like: They’re smaller and easier to carry…Easier to use…The batteries last a week!…The screens don’t break when you drop them…They have actual BUTTONS!

Low supply + high demand = really high prices…

Sure, they’re pretty basic…but if you just want to make calls and send simple texts – they work fine. European retailers say handsets like the Nokia 3310 and the Motorola StarTec 130 are in high demand.

And because supply is low (hey, they don’t make them anymore!), retro phones are commanding premium prices. In fact, seekers of retro phone in Europe are willing to pay as much as €1,000 ($1,359).

Not niche anymore…

Photo of Nokia 8210

Current best seller – the 1999 Nokia 8210

Retailers say that there has been a niche demand for retro mobile phones for years. But starting at the beginning of 2013…demand has soared. One retailer told Jiji that he has sold 10,000 units in that tine. Naturally, his biggest problem is finding inventory.

“Some people don’t blink at the prices; we have models at more than €1,000,” Djassem Haddad, founder of told Jiji. “The high prices are due to the difficulty of finding those models, which were limited editions in their time.”

So what’s going on here? Have Europeans turned into a bunch of Luddites? Not at all, Haddad told Jini.

“The older population wants simpler phones, while other consumers want a second cheap phone,” he said.

Today’s biggest seller? A model from 1999…

Vintagemobile’s most popular mobile phone is the Nokia 8210. Originally launched in 1999, it was the smallest and lightest mobile phone on the market. And as Haddad mentioned, you can call on it and SMS text on it – but that’s about all.

Yet another explanation for the surging popularity of retro phones comes from Damien Douani of the FaDa Agency, a social media company. According to Douani, there is “a great sensation of finding an object that we knew during another era – a little like paying for vintage sneakers that we couldn’t afford when we were teenagers.”

Rise of the smartphone ‘counterculture’…

Also, there’s “a logic of counterculture in reaction to the overconnectednesss of today’s society, with disconnection being the current trend. That includes the need to return to what is essential, and a basic telephone that is used only for making phone calls and sending SMSes,” Douani told Jiji. It is also about “being different. Today, everyone has a smartphone that looks just like any other, while 10 years ago, brands were much more creative.”

Lekki, another French online retailer of “vintage” mobile phones, agrees with the others. “Too many online social networks and an excess of email and applications have made us slaves to technology in our everyday life,” content on Lekki’s website suggests. “Lekki provides a solution, allowing a return to basic features and entertainments.”

Europe may be onto something. We found a whopping 3,371 results on eBay when we typed the phrase, “retro mobile phones,” into the Search box. That’s a lot of retro…

About Ted

A sales and marketing specialist - primarily in the technology industry - I've experienced a sort of "circle of life" in business. I've been a mass merchant retailer, a specialty retailer, a specialty manufacturer, a large volume manufacturer, a distributor, and even represented sales representatives. Now the owner of a marketing company that works with a variety of businesses on improving their strategic marketing and business development - I analyze issues from all angles to develop holistic solutions.

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