Congratulations to the Jitterbug: first past the post with FisherPrice App for Smartphones

In July last year at the Senior Mobile Market Conference in London I made a call for a “senior” device maker to use their expertise to launch easy to use software (AKA Fisherprice) that could personalise Smartphones to broaden their appeal.

So it’s great to see less than a year later that GreatCall, the rebranded company that together with Samsung brought the world the Jitterbug Senior mobile, have delivered on their March promise and launched the “MedCoach™ app” in the Apple App Store.

The Free App features

> Medication Reminder service to keep track of and follow Your Medication Schedule

> Pharmacy connectivity for prescription refills

> A place to store a contact list of doctors and pharmacies and medication history with a data security promise (via GreatCall’s secure SAS70 Type II infrastructure)

> “Shake for Help™” a User Experience addition that enables customers to “just shake the phone” to get a “help bubble” to appear on screen (when the app is running)

> Assistance services: 24/7 access to “live, personal assistance via email” to GreatCall’s HIPAA compliant customer support team.

> Access to the “First Databank national drug database”

The Press Release

This highlights stats from the 2010 Benchmarks in Improving Medication Adherence report to remind readers of how poor medication adherence heightens the risk of death, increases hospital admission rates (more than 1 in 3 medication-related hospitals) and increases medical costs ($290 Billion annually).

The GreatCall MedCoach App

Unfortunately (and unsurprising considering the local nature of the service offered) the apps aren’t available outside the USA so if you’re in the USA let me know what you think by downloading it now:

Bit of a shame there isn’t a “lite” version for international fans of the brand as here’s the alternatives I got offered:


I’m really surprised that a company so heavily invested in hardware would be the first to make this move. The Jitterbug device strategy has taken more than $100 million of investment before it could start generating profits – and there has also been that >$20 million product recall. I’m also surprised that the company haven’t gone a bit further than just an app and started on the much more lucrative opportunities to resell already provisioned devices, iPhone SIMs & Plans using their MVNO license, or GreatCall branded accessories.

But the timing in general seems very good. With the iPhone 5 being released this summer there’s a good chance that seniors could bag themselves a “handed up” iPhone 4 from children/grandchildren who are treating themselves to an upgrade.

Why have they ignored the video opportunity?

With a powerful video mobile capable of playing rich content and connecting customers via rich 2 way Video Calls with friends, family and remote professionals (such as their LiveNurse line) it surprises me to read that customers are being offered “Assistance services” that include “24/7 access to live, personal assistance via email to GreatCall’s HIPAA compliant customer support team”.

Maybe I’m missing the point here but why would a customer want to use email when they’ve got MMS and video calls?

A set back for Samsung

I guess this signals an end in the relationship between Samsung (the USA’s biggest mobile manufacturer) and GreatCall. More than 5 years ago Samsung took a big bet with their Jitterbug joint venture and it’s not all been plain sailing so I’m very surprised that GreatCall didn’t leverage this valuable relationship.

It’s clear Samsung could do with all the help they can get so imagine if GreatCall could have positioned themselves as a software and service development ally and brand to help Samsung pitch their smartphone range at senior audiences? Although the iPhone device capabilities may dominates the media headlines even the top of the line device from Samsung (the Android dual core Samsung Galaxy S II) has had global sales of more than 3 million since it’s unveiling in February.

With a consistent look and feel across apps they could have even made themselves a “GreatCall SDK” that I’m sure would have proved very attractive to mHealth developers while helping Samsung find even more customers with their diverse Smartphone range – in an extension of what Nokia are achieving with this basic smartphone/software combo that is retailing successfully in Europe:

Surprised they didn’t do more to personalise the device

GreatCall have some great partners in the US eg. the American Automobile Association that could have been leveraged to sell in additional services eg. content (in car navigation, last minute hotels/restaurants), accessories (car kits) and GreatCall are in a great position to expand this with countless other partners who are also working in this space eg. medical device manufacturers, pharma brands etc. in fact it’s hard to see an end to the opportunities…

Big congratulations all the same and it’s great to think of the scope this leaves for further development… …I look forward to learning more about GreatCall’s international mHealth plans in Brussels on the 20-21 September at the Mobile Healthcare Industry Summit.

About 3G Doctor

The Corporate Blog of 3G Doctor
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3 Responses to Congratulations to the Jitterbug: first past the post with FisherPrice App for Smartphones

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