Why smartphones? Because seniors just don’t want a CellPhone

A regular question I’m asked is what research shows that seniors want and will use smart phones? My answer has always been a rather complex explanation of what’s happening in more advanced mobile markets, data showing the success of other personalised applications such as personal emergency response services, the ability for it to be used as a wireless hub etc etc. A quote from Madeline Pantalone, VP of Strategy and Business Development at GreatCall (providers of the Jitterbug device/MVNO) over at MobiHealthNews makes it all much clearer:

“The challenge for us with the 65-and-up market (predominantly the 75-plus market) is getting them to keep the cell phone on… …There’s a generation of 75-plus people who only use their mobile phones to call their kids and then they turn it off and put it back in their purse”

Sidestepping the fact that lots of marketers in the mobile industry still think they’re selling customers minutes of call time (and haven’t even begun to appreciate that they should actually be selling “reachability” – something that has much more value) the way to change this really is quite simple: add smart services that can add value when the phone isn’t being used to make calls.

Whilst the future of this is something I’m doing a lot of work on at the moment (after twinning the new Samsung GTab with a Bluetooth wireless bone conduction receiver/microphone and some other rather incredible medical devices) there is a wide variety of very basic and very low cost ways to achieve this, a good example being the pedometer functionality which is typically pre-installed on smartphones that are sold to seniors in Japan (the little “running man” icon indicates it’s at work):

After all why would anyone want to turn off their phone when it’s doing something useful?

5 Responses to Why smartphones? Because seniors just don’t want a CellPhone

  1. faisal says:

    The ‘need’ to move to a zero sum game of smartphone or no-care-for-you marketing is artificial. There are many things a feature phone can do that manufacturers don’t want the public to utilize.

  2. Hi Faizal,

    Not sure exactly what you mean but I think we all realise that mobile technology is continually advancing at a phenomenal rate and that today’s smartphone features will inevitably be what we find on tomorrow’s feature phones.

    IMO Pedometer and wellness diary apps that run in the background on feature phones are a good example of the smart features that I think mobile operators should be actively promoting as these are a good first step to getting a patient engaged and familiar with using their mobile as a cost effective and highly capable health tool.

    • faisal says:

      By feature phone, I refer to phones that are not processor intensive to run “apps” like the flood of flip phones. The latest PEW Internet finding asked the question of health downloaded “apps” rather than heath mobile usage. This is too narrow a definition for health usage on a mobile device. Many web based solutions exist and do not fit the “downloadable apps” definition.
      Mobile healthcare loses if the public perception becomes: to self monitor and engage in ones health one needs to upgrade to an app capable smartphone.

  3. […] of SMS? We might not know it or even like it but we’re definitely all getting Smartphones Why Smartphones? Because seniors just don’t want a cellphone “The App Gap: Why Baby Boomers Won’t Use Most Smart Phone […]

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