The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in Las Vegas later this week. The Tech press and legions of bloggers will be hard at work, 24 hours a day, ensuring that microblogs run red-hot and RSS Readers are stuffed full of new product announcements and service launches. We can expect everyone and his dog to show off new Tablet devices, push their own particular ‘4G’ solution and big-up the potential global dominance of the Android Operating System. I’m looking forward to it.
Before the hype and hyperbole starts, this might be a good moment to step back and take another look at the best selling consumer electronic device in the history of the world – the Nokia 1100. Launched in 2003, this simple mobile phone shipped an incredible 250 million units. Here’s the technical specification:
Dimensions: 106 x 46 x 20 mm, 79 cc
Display: Monochrome graphic, 96 x 65 pixels
Sound: Monophonic ringtones
Battery: Standard Li-Ion 850 mAh, standby 400 hrs, talktime 4.5 hrs
Features: SMS to many, Calculator, Flashlight, Stopwatch, 2 Games
That’s it. One of the least sexy mobile phones ever built. Tough, rugged and dependable it has no trouble surviving a 1.5 metre drop test. It won’t support any apps, it doesn’t have a camera, or even a browser, and yet unquestionably, through innovative use of SMS and mobile money services such as M-PESA, it has lifted the quality of life of millions of people in the world’s poorest regions. With no fanfare, the Nokia 1100 empowered countless numbers of entrepreneurs, from farmers and fishermen, to craftsmen and market traders.
I’m certain we’ll see some really cool devices and amazing new services at CES, but I’m also willing to wager that none of them will have the same lasting impact for positive good as the humble Nokia 1100.