In some business circles, the more successful you are the older the model of your mobile

December 5, 2013 4:40 pm

Need a status upgrade? Get an antiquated Nokia handset

By Duncan Robinson

Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny had a Nokia 6310 until he dropped it in a sink earlier this year

Sir Philip Green has all the trappings of a billionaire: the house in Monaco, the yacht, the supermodel-strewn parties – and a decade-old Nokia 6310. Despite being one of Britain’s richest people and running Arcadia Group, one of the country’s biggest retailers, Sir Philip relies on a Finnish phone designed in 2002, which cannot receive email or browse the web.

“Everybody can’t live without sending a message every two minutes,” says Sir Philip. “You can still get a hell of a lot done just talking to people.”

In the early noughties, Nokia’s sturdy handsets – such as the 6310, with its long curves and even longer battery life, and its shorter, fatter cousin the 3310 – were ubiquitous among business executives and teenagers alike.

The rise of the smartphone, powered by Apple and Samsung, put paid to Nokia’s dominance. But the old models retain fans in the business elite.

Julian Dunkerton, chief executive of SuperGroup, has a long-lived, battered Nokia 6310. Why? “It works, never breaks, [and] has a long battery life,” says the market-stall trader turned fashion mogul behind the Superdry label. “More importantly, I’m not bombarded with emails every minute, allowing me to deal with the crucial stuff.” Mr Dunkerton still reads email, just not on the go.

It may lack the shiny newness of an iPhone, but an ancient Nokia can still be a cause of envy. “Everyone says: ‘I wish I could have one of those’,” says Sir Philip.

Even those who have moved on to other devices long for the sturdy curves of Nokia’s 3210 and 6310. “I still yearn after the old, beautifully engineered one,” says Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising group WPP, who now has a more modern Nokia, among other devices. “I think it was [the] 3210: what I called the ‘engineer’s phone’.”

Decrepit Nokias are still an occasional sight on the desks of dealmakers across the City who may not always want to put down thoughts in writing. They also crop up in the world of politics. Irish taoiseach Enda Kenny had a Nokia 6310 until he dropped it in a sink earlier this year.

Martin Schulz, the president of the EU’s parliament, is another politico who opts for an elderly Nokia. In the aftermath of the hacking of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, an internet-free handset became a boon. One correspondent from a German newspaper tweeted a picture of Mr Schulz’s 6310, with the caption: “Guaranteed bugproof.” (Mr Schulz retweeted it.)

Beyond the durability and long battery life, there are other advantages to retro phones, especially when you are the boss. Forget the corner office on the 15th floor – a true mark of seniority is the ability to tell human resources where to go when they demand you upgrade your technology.

You are also free to swap the passive aggressive flashing red light of the BlackBerry for the polite knock of a secretary clutching your printed out emails. “I don’t want to wake up in the morning to 100 emails,” says Sir Philip. So he doesn’t. He lets his office sort through them instead.

The 6310 was so well loved that it left a hole in Nokia’s product range when the company stopped selling it in 2007. “I couldn’t understand why they didn’t replace it properly,” says Sir Charles Dunstone, chairman and founder of Carphone Warehouse. “I remember saying to them at the time: this is like Volkswagen getting rid of the Golf and not replacing it.”

Now the phone seems destined to become a design classic. “Maybe if they’d made 100m more of these [Nokia’s handset arm] wouldn’t have been sold to Microsoft,” says Sir Philip. “While I can still get network on it, I will keep this phone.”

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: