CNBC: A hot pink Barbie flip phone is on the way

Ryan Browne
CNBC
The company behind Nokia-branded smartphones, HMD, will launch a Barbie flip phone.
The company behind Nokia-branded smartphones, HMD, will launch a Barbie flip phone. Credit: Warner Bros./AP

Not yet tired of the Barbie movie?

Soon, you’ll be able to get a flip phone from the blockbuster toy franchise.

The company behind Nokia-branded smartphones, HMD, short for Human Mobile Devices, says it is launching a Barbie flip phone this northern summer, in partnership with toy maker Mattel.

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Mattel is the company behind the Barbie fashion doll collection. It has produced and sold the popular kids’ toys and accessories since 1959.

The device, which is slated for launch this northern summer, “promises to embody the vintage chic of the original girl empowerment brand with a dash of pink and of course, sparkle,” according to a HMD press release.

It won’t be connected to the internet, making it a throwback to the “dumb phones” of yesteryear before smartphones became popular.

So-called dumb phones have become more popular, especially with Gen Z consumers, who are trying to limit their digital activity and move away from toxic content found on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube.

HMD was spun out of Microsoft after the U.S. tech giant decided to sell the Nokia phone brand, which it first purchased in 2014, to a group of former Nokia executives.

HMD Global was established in 2016.

Riding Barbie mania

Barbie mania became a phenomenon in 2023 due to a blockbuster movie featuring the likes of Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, and Will Ferrell.

The film pulled in over $1.4 billion at the box office, making it the highest-grossing film of 2023.

Lars Silberbauer, HMD’s chief marketing officer, told CNBC the company was taking the “Lego model” of partnering with other big-name brands, while providing tech knowhow and its own phone brand.

Silberbauer previously worked at Lego as a senior global director.

“We’re not a white label business. We want the HMD brand to stand for something,” Silberbauer told CNBC. “There will be more collaborations. The next one is coming out in May.”

He suggested there would be plenty other deals and partnerships down the line.

HMD previously worked with James Bond movie “No Time To Die” to promote the film in 2020.

The new device from HMD and Mattel will look like a standard flip phone with buttons rather than a touch screen, and comes in a hot pink color, resembling the iconic pink flip phone accessory that comes with many Barbie dolls.

Information on pricing and availability has not yet been shared by the company.

The phone promises to embody the vintage chic of the original girl empowerment brand with a dash of pink and of course, sparkle.
The phone promises to embody the vintage chic of the original girl empowerment brand with a dash of pink and of course, sparkle. Credit: Richard Drew/AP

The company is hoping the traction of the Barbie brand will give it a boost as a more internationally recognised brand name.

HMD did not reveal the device at its press event in Barcelona, which came ahead of the Mobile World Congress technology trade show.

It is the first device being sold by HMD under its new brand name, Human Mobile Devices — or HMD for short. This is a step away from Nokia which is the brand HMD typically has used to sell its dumb phones and smartphones.

Under a revamp, HMD plans to still sell Nokia phones. But it will partner with other brands to sell phones that represent both its brand, and the partner’s.

Francisco Jeronimo, vice president of devices and analytics for Europe at research firm IDC, said he believes HMD will try to put for celebrities and influencers to promote its phones.

“This could help the brand get a more premium positioning, Jeronimo said in an interview. “They are very strong on feature phones their sales on smartphones are not that strong.”

HMD, which also reached profitability last year, sells millions of smartphones. But it’s not a household name like Apple or Samsung.

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