New Phones for Old

Last week I had a meeting with some people at CeBIT in Hanover and took the opportunity to have a quick look round for a couple of hours. To put this in perspective, it’s about as ambitious as being in¬†the UK¬†and taking half a¬†day to look round London – all you’re going to get is a fleeting¬†impression. It’s a giant show in over 20 halls and I couldn’t help wondering what an unpleasant experience moving from one hall to another would be if we were having a real German winter.

The mood generally seemed to be that CeBIT was declining in importance, underlined in mobile by the fact that Nokia, Moto and ePlus (one of¬†Germany’s largest operators)¬†were not attending this year. These names join other big cheeses such as Philips, Sony, Dell and HP.

However, one idea caught my eye that’s interesting is the Life Phone, produced by Emporio¬†in Austria. It’s specifically being produced for the over 50’s consumer and has features like a big screen, large buttons and extra loud speakers for the hard of hearing. It also has an alarm function, that alerts others if you get into trouble.

Conversely, it doesn’t have stuff like a camera.

Will it succeed? Hmmm, I’m sceptical about the breadth of appeal. For starters, lumping people of 50 in with those who are 90 doesn’t sound much of a marketing strategy to me. Imagine suggesting that your target market was 1 year to 40 year¬†olds¬†and you can see the range they’re “targeting” here.

I also think that expecting people to carry around a badge saying “hey, you know what? I’m an old fart and can’t cope with this new fangled technology” is going to limit the market. I’d humbly suggest that if you’re going to launch a handset with more appeal to older people that differences need to be pretty subtle. Sure, make buttons and screens bigger and the handsets more simple, but I think there’s a real risk of patronising the target market here – never a good thing.

Oh and give them a camera. Just coz they’re getting on a little doesn’t mean that they don’t want photos, you know.

Image from the BBC.


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