8 Things Pinoys Owe to the Nokia Phone Era
n the last six to eight years, we were able to see the decline of Finnish company Nokia that once lorded over its competitors during the emergence of short message services in the Philippines (thus, we called the Nokia phone era).
That’s why when we heard about software corporation Microsoft purchasing the handset business of Nokia, we couldn’t help but feel a little bit nostalgic about our once rock-solid relationship with the brand.
“How many Nokia units did I own?” “How many romances actually developed from just being textmates?” Whatever the case may be, one thing’s for sure: it’s the end of an era and the Nokia-dominated period was a pivotal one in our lives, not just as individuals, but as an interactive, techie Filipino nation as well. Here are 8 ways early Nokia phones were a major part of the Pinoy way of life.
Back in the day, cellular phones worked exactly the way they were supposed to, but Nokia GSM phones had an important extra that it presented to the masses, which, in turn, became its biggest strength. Although they never called themselves “smart,” we were perfectly fine with that fact. The mindset of a typical Nokia user was to get a personal response or two from a specific contact and a measly “K” reply was enough. Pagers, we hardly knew you.
The ever so frugal Filipino consumer—of course they’re able to find a way around those ungodly call rates back in early 2000s. And while we can no longer use these strategies (or can we still?), kudos to the adlibbers that discovered ways to save on mobile phone usage back in the Nokia era, when texting made more money sense but easily got trumped by the purported three-second call-drop rule.
Let it be known that before the Philippines became the social networking capital, it was the “text capital of the world” first and foremost. We’re such initiators in the industry that the term “texting” made it into international pop culture and the English dictionary right immediately.
Waiting only strengthened our relationship with our Nokia phones. It even led to small achievements, such as top-scoring in Snake and forwarding really funny and/or sweet messages—quotes, jokes, etc. No “likes” or “followers” yet, but we valued the 500 names in our phonebook all the same and we were willing to send them random SMS on a daily basis. If you wanted to compose your own ringtone, that desire was covered as well.
The Nokia cellphone boom paved the way for the emergence of two kinds of Pinoy opportunists: the pickpockets and the creative ones. Let’s remember the creative ones that thought of different “housing” or phone case designs, ID phone lace, backlighting services and other random gray market specials.
“Where na you? Dito na me.” That’s how an untrained (or feeling) Jejemon would supposedly ask a person about his or her whereabouts via the SMS. Much has been said about this specific of way of texting—from the way it defied grammar and secret language decoders, but the birth of the Jejenese language will most likely be linked back to the Nokia dominance in the country. Will it also be making an exit soon? Only time will tell.
Most people noted texting as the major driving force that made the historic EDSA II possible back in 2001. Multiple stories suggest that a text brigade initiated by an influential person to protest on EDSA amid a crucial time in ex-President Erap’s impeachment trial led to the peaceful revolt on the streets. The rest, they say, is history.
Perhaps only coincidentally, but the rise of cellphones in the Philippines in the late ‘90s helped define the notorious Filipino time that in its worst form could mean arriving 30 minutes to an hour late at a business meeting, apparently because we’d succumbed to using the “text-text na lang” line. While today’s local cityfolk would often blame traffic, it has been greatly suggested that we really owe this to our over-dependence on mobile connectivity coupled with our laidback attitude—something even the smartest smartphones have yet to solve.