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Tech in the movies: the potential impact of cinema’s most famous mobile phones on real-life sales 

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Mobile phones have been appearing in movies since the 1980s, but which ones truly made an impact? 

Research by online retailer, Mobiles.co.uk, has revealed how mobile phone technology in modern day cinema potentially influenced real-life sales. 

James Bond Casino Royale (Sony Ericsson K800i) 

Image: Spotern.com 

Sony Ericsson has been a go-to phone throughout the Bond franchise, featuring in iconic films such as Tomorrow Never Dies and Daniel Craig’s first outing, Casino Royale. In the 21st Bond film, released 16th November 2006, Craig sported a Sony Ericsson K800i (with a unique silver exterior)1. 

Sony Ericsson sales increased a whopping £3.1 million in 2006, the year the film was released, and a further £1.6 million in 20072. Following its use by the world’s greatest secret agent, Sony Ericsson saw this giant leap in sales, with customers worldwide showing the brand a similar level of enthusiasm as 007 did. 

The Matrix (Nokia 8110) 

Image: Spotern.com 

In 1999, the Nokia 8110 featured in The Matrix. The slide-out phone was used by a young Keanu Reeves, a high-end device at the time (costing over £700)3. The film was released on 11th June 1999, with global success and critical acclaim, and the following year saw a huge boost in sales for the Nokia brand.  

In the year following the film (2000), Nokia made £26.5 billion in net sales, a £9.5 billion increase from the previous year (£17 billion).4 It seemed to be a common theme in the early 2000s for brands to see growth in the months following brand usage by movie heroes.  

Iron Man 2 and The Social Network (LG VX9400) 

Image: PCmag.com 

The LG VX9400 made an appearance in two major blockbusters in 2010, Iron Man 2 (released 30th April) and The Social Network (15th October). Known as a ‘wing’ flip phone, Tony Stark (Robert Downey-Junior) uses it in the opening scene of the Marvel film.5 

In the year the two films were released, LG’s mobile phone sales increased by 11% quarter over quarter, with a total of 30.6 million handsets being shipped.6 Iron Man is notorious for his advanced (usually fictional) technology, and his enthusiasm was shared with LG customers.  

Wall Street (Motorola DynaTAC) 

Image: Spotern.com 

Wealthy investor, Gordon Gekko, famously uses the Motorola DynaTAC in American drama Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas and Michael Sheen. The series of ‘brick’ phones, used in the 80s and 90s, were the first commercially available cellular phones and retailed at £2800.7  

Wall Street was released in 1987, a year in which Motorola saw sales rise a record 14% to £4.7 billion.8 The phone notably appeared in numerous other films and TV shows over the years, such as American Psycho and Saved by the Bell. 

Devil Wears Prada 

Image: Spotern.com 

This classic Rom-Com, Devil Wears Prada, starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, features the popular Motorola Razr flip phone, which quickly became a much-loved device in television and film, including A Good Year, Lost and Prison Break.9 

Following the film’s release in October 2006, Moto sales the following year (2007) jumped up by 42%, equalling a whopping £1.5 million.10 It appears that customers were as enthusiastic about Motorola as their on-screen idols were. 

It’s safe to say the film put flip phones on the map, with a £497,000 increase in sales11, and endorsement from the fashion-icon, Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep).  

Andrew Cartledge, mobile expert at Mobiles.co.uk commented: “The impact that the film industry has had on pop culture is prevalent in our everyday lives. Although we may not notice, our spending habits are influenced by what we see on our screens, and technology is a prime example of that. 

“Over the years, household names such as Motorola and Nokia, have featured heavily on the big screen, which has ultimately impacted brand reputation and consumer spending. Associating Sony Ericsson with an iconic character such as James Bond creates demand, as consumers want to get their hands on the model seen on screen, so they can be just like their onscreen heroes.” 

References

*All financial figures have been converted to GBP accurate as of 21/06/21 

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