Author(s): Peter Bryer
Punkt's upcoming handset shouts that less is more and it's time to get back to basics.
The Punkt MP 01 has a small black-and-white display, a physical keypad and no apps. When most handset makers in the world strive for more, Punkt insists that it's time for technology to be tamed.
Punkt was founded in 2008 with the goal of making consumer electronics products basic again. Style and simplicity come first, and much of the company's efforts appear to be fighting the temptation of adding that one additional function. Punkt's portfolio includes a simple alarm clock for $185 and a $149 cable organizer.
Punkt's products are a fashion statement — potential buyers of the firm's upcoming handset want to make it clear that they aren't information junkies. There are no selfies, no Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat, or even any colours. There's voice, texting, a contacts list, an alarm clock and a calendar, giving the device a feature set similar to that of the hugely popular Nokia 2110 released in 1995.
There's something refreshing about Punkt's phone, and the recent retro trend in cities means this could attract a few people willing to spend for the style and statement. At $295, the MP 01 is an extravagant purchase that's considerably more expensive than many other basic phones as well as smartphones, but it could become a secondary device for specific occasions or a primary device for digital detoxing.
Punkt isn't the first company to centre in on such simplicity. Firms like Doro are making basic, big-buttoned handsets intended for seniors, and the credit card-sized Light Phone champions a lack of distraction.
It would be premature to highlight a counter-culture movement, but there's a niche in the basics and, for some, a yearning to set the clock back a few decades. Vinyl records and manual typewriters are hot commodities these days, after all (see Daily Insight: The Film Fad and Other Retro Stories).
Punkt's new GSM handset is being shown at the London Design Festival from Saturday, and should become available for order this month. It's an anti-smartphone, fashion-first device. It might be time for other handset makers to dust off the classics.