Monday, July 23, 2007

Mixed response for phones for the elderly

It won't come as much surprise to many that the mobile phone operators and handset manufacturers squarely target youth segments - you only have to see their advertising which mainly seems to be focussed around using phones for enjoying music, ipod stylee. Just occasionally, you see advertising promoting mobiles for business. But if you visit any mobile phone store, Carphone Warehouse, Phones4u et al, their in-store offers are all aimed at the youth segment (by which I mean under 30s) - free Sony PSP, free wide screen telly, xbox 360 or a free ipod Nano.

But having met Dick Stroud not so long ago, my eyes have been opened to the lucrative over 50s segment, which is incredibly diverse, but under represented when it comes to technology offerings - mobile or web.

Recently, there's been a phone launched on to the market, the Emporia Life, and it seems the network operators have snubbed it. The phone is aimed at the over 50s, although, I think they've made the assumption that all over 50s have trouble with their eyesight, hearing and manual dexterity. And having a brother and sister who are over 50, I can safely say that although they wear glasses, they have no problems handling their Motorola Razr and Nokia 3310 respectively. Russell's noted that they're going to find it tough and thinks their approach is patronising. And I have to agree. Defining customers by age is a bit daft these days. There are 50 year olds out there who have more in common with a 20 year old than they do with a 60 year old. Age is a state of mind not an accumulation of years.

I think it's disappointing that Communic8 has got the Emporia Life marketing and PR message so wrong. There are clearly a *lot* of folks out there who would find this kind of mobile phone incredibly useful - easy to read display, nice big buttons for easier dialling and texting and a simpler UI (user interface) as well as an emergency button. But Communic8 need to sharpen up their marketing to reach their market better. Not all over 50s are the same as Dick Stroud will happily tell you. And if they do that, then maybe, just maybe, the network operators will sit up and take notice.


  1. Anonymous10:11 am BST

    I've just started looking around to find a replacement for my parents' aging (non-clam) Nokia.

    They want one that's smaller and lighter.

    The phone illustrated looks interesting but at £170 is far too expensive.

    My parents are both 84 and do have failing eyesight and problems with small keys, but don't want or need functionality like the ability to send photo messages or download the latest Amy Winehouse ring-tone.

    Trying to get my Dad to embrace any technology is a battle. Sadly. this may turn out to be a bridge too far.


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