TelecareAware: O2’s Mobile Care in a Shop Near You (UK)

Telecare Aware O2 Mobile Care

Steve Hards at Telecare Aware has a great scoop on the launch news of O2 Mobile Care (see the O2 Health Press Release here).

A few of my thoughts on this great development:

Very positive move

Overall this is a very positive development. O2’s been stalling for years with it’s O2 Health product launches and with new management (Nikki Flanders has taken over from Keith Nurcombe) hopefully we’re going to be seeing a new O2 Health that’s going to be move confident about bringing products to market. The importance of this is key – as we’ve seen with hardware recalls in the seniorphone market it could be very expensive for O2 if it decides for any reason that it needs to take this device and the service off the market.

Telcos’ aren’t prepared to let Apple be the only retailer of mHealth devices

Perhaps it’s the difficulty training sales staff but it surprises me after we could all see the sales hit that Apple have had on their hands that telcos have been so slow off the mark with this. Now that it’s happened I’m really looking forward to seeing O2 to continue to expand with much more popular and powerful mobile connected sensory devices like the Firetext mobile connected smoke/CO alarm, the SenCit Care Monitor, smartphone connected activity/non-activity monitoring wrist worn devices (most of the users in the o2 health videos look physically well enough to wear these devices), etc.

Press Release Hyperbole

The liberal use of hyperbole makes the O2 press release very hard reading for me and it’s really not neccessary and might not be helpful for O2 as it tries to bring a new brand to market eg. why claim that this is “the launch of the UK’s first mobile telecare service aimed at consumers” when anyone who knows this market is aware that there are plenty of fully mobile services already on the market that have been used in the homes of patients for years.

Branding Struggles

O2 Health Mobile TeleCare

This whole “Mobile Tele” phrase doesn’t work with me and I think it’s going to confuse customers. Obviously I think it would be better for Mobile Operators to go with Mobile Health or mHealth but I can see no sense in them using the word “Tele” (as it means “distant” – something a patient holding a lifeline device really doesn’t want to think about) or to combine it with Mobile (a tech that we are all aware collapses time and space).

Sainsbury’s? Why not Tesco?

I had to take a double take on this one. Tesco’s aren’t just bigger than Sainsbury’s but they have a much closer (and more profitable) relationship with O2 (the successful Tesco Mobile is a JV with O2) and they are already the biggest/best retailer (in the UK and Ireland) of mobiles that have been designed to be used by seniors.

Are telco’s addicted to hardware financing?

Possibly it’s a legacy of the telco’s traditional addiction to financing mobile device hardware but it amazes me that they haven’t just started offering this functionality as an add on to all of their mobile packages as there must be 100’s of thousands of people in the UK and Ireland who would like to pay for a Mobile Personal Emergency Response Service that already have a emergency SOS button on their Doro Mobile or have a smartphone with a FullPower motion sensor built in (perhaps wearing a “Ridiculously over-engineered” case).

ZERO Mobile Marketing plans

O2 expects sales to come through online advertising and word of mouth, particularly through publicity via user and carer organisations and they have no plans at present for a TV campaign. However, as Sainsbury already knows through its loyalty card system which of their customers buy ready meals for one and who also have repeat prescriptions for certain conditions will it be long before some Help at Hand targeted advertising goes out to them?

It’s disappointing that there’s no mention of Mobile Marketing and this suprises me because not only is it highly effective but Telefonica even has “O2 Media” – it’s own advertising arm that specialises in this.

O2 Media

What would I have done?

O2 Help at Hand

If it had been my decision I would have started by providing an any network service that could activate the telecare button that is on the hundreds of thousands of Doro EasyPhones that are already being used in the UK market.

In my opinion this is a very price sensitive market and most will already have a mobile phone subscription so the hassle of remembering, carrying, paying for and charging another device isn’t going to be as easy sell as many in the mobile industry might think it will be.

Using the dedicated hardware button on a Doro device (these don’t yet feature fall sensors) may have reduced slightly the applications it could serve but it would also greatly increase the value proposition as Doro’s also pack a range of features that the HelpatHand device doesn’t (100 Db Ringtone, High Contrast adjustable screen, etc, etc) and a push button would reduce the cost/customer service issues that will arise from the large number of false alarms this motion sensing device will generate.

A strategy based around an already accepted and successful device (that has proven it can take customers on the lucrative smartphone migration path) would also be a key opportunity to building loyal relationships with customers that are using other networks that you could then expand your relationship with when they next went to upgrade their mobile or add mHealth accessories.

Instore retail?

It’s interesting to watch the videos in the TelecareAware article because many of the customers who are talking explain that they were uncomfortable making trips out of the house before they had the device which makes me wonder if the instore presence is going to provide a ROI for the retailer.

I wonder if these easy to use already set up mobile devices aren’t ideally suited to a mail order retail model (in the USA this is how telcos like Verizon sell their SureResponse Personal Monitors).

Verizon SureResponse Personal Monitor

What next?

I’m off out to buy a device. Will update readers on my experiences on the fair use T&C’s and my experiences with the sign up and use of the device.


Simon Rockman has produced a must read write up over at The Register in which he’s revealed the O2 product has been produced together with partners G4S (the Olympics-shenanigans company) and Oysta Technology (neither of which had any mention on the O2 website or press releases). Comments are interesting too.

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