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Your Barbie Dream Phone Is About to Become a Reality

 Your Barbie Dream Phone Is About to Become a Reality


Hi, Barbie! This is Journalist Barbie reporting live from MWC in Barcelona, Spain, about the best day ever. 

It turns out we, the Barbies, are getting our own phone. It’s pink and sparkly and it has our name on it. The Barbie Flip Phone will be made by HMD — the company responsible for breathing new life into Nokia phones — as the first in a series of brand partnerships it plans to announce over the coming year.

Read more: Best Phone to Buy for 2024

HMD is collaborating with Mattel on our phone, which should be available this summer. We don’t know exactly what it’ll look like at this stage, but it promises to embody the vintage chic of our brand heritage, which as you all know stretches back to 1959. 

We also know that the device will be a flip phone that’ll offer an updated-feature-phone experience, rather than a smartphone experience. This is in line with HMD’s commitment to encourage us to jump on the digital-detox trend. The company says that with the Barbie Flip Phone, it’s providing a new option to Gen Z and millennial phone users who are increasingly looking for ways to stay connected while protecting their peace by spending less time on social media.

Black Barbie and white Barbie, with white Barbie holding a phone Black Barbie and white Barbie, with white Barbie holding a phone

Will the Barbie Phone look anything like this?

HMD

The last year has seen so many Barbie brand partnerships that it feels impossible to keep track of them all. From Xbox to Airbnb, products and services are desperate to flaunt our name. It’s very flattering, but at the same time we’re being used to sell an awful lot of stuff — stuff that not everyone needs.

Bearing this in mind, I can’t keep out the big thoughts, like: Is the Barbie Phone in some way commodifying our resistance to doomscrolling? Is there a contradiction in HMD touting sustainability as a core company value while at the same time trying to capitalize on a potentially lucrative merchandising partnership that may well feed into the rampant consumerism that’s harming the Earth?

I don’t have all the answers. As Journalist Barbie, I’m just here to ask the questions. So I did. I spoke with HMD’s chief marketing officer, Lars Silberbauer, who told me that the Barbie phone won’t simply be a toy that doesn’t fulfill its purpose. It will be a fully functioning feature phone that will meet your core connectivity needs, so you can call all the other Barbies, or Ken, or even Allan (probably not though).

One of the biggest issues causing the accumulation of e-waste (more than 5 billion “dormant” phones are sitting unused in people’s drawers around the world) is that many devices aren’t built to last. That isn’t the case with the Barbie Flip Phone, Silberbauer said. “It’s going to last a long time,” he said.

Many phone companies, he added, still push people to upgrade on a yearly basis, which fuels consumerism. Conversely, the Nokia devices that HMD is known for making are durable and “very difficult to kill.” Those same standards will apply to the Barbie Flip Phone.

As a journalist who’s been writing about tech for some time now, there’s also part of me that wonders whether we Barbies really need pink, sparkly phones. It’s not that I don’t like pink, or sparkles (you should see my dream house). It’s just that not so long ago, it was a struggle to get technology companies run by boardrooms full of men to take women’s tech needs seriously. They used a strategy known in the advertising world as “shrink it and pink it” as a way to take a product that was already appropriate for both men and women and use gendered marketing to sell it to women — often charging more in the process.

1959 Barbie doll 1959 Barbie doll

Barbie looking stylish in 1959.

HMD

Silberbauer quite fairly pointed out that there’s nothing to say that the Barbie phone is only for women. “It’s for any kind of fan of Barbie,” he said. The phone will pay tribute to the “great style” that Barbie has shown over the years, with the Mattel and HMD design teams working together to make it into the best possible product for the people who love Barbie.

As we know, everyone is a fan of Barbie, so that’s a lot of people. But for people who are also fans of other things, HMD promises there are more exciting partnerships in the pipeline, with the next collaboration coming this spring.

That’s all for now, Barbie! Stay tuned for more (non-Barbie) phone updates all this week from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

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Watch this: What to Expect from Mobile World Congress 2024



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