Why don’t major manufacturers target phones for old people?

I recently bought an Emporia phone (see pictures) which is targeted at the elderly. It has large buttons, a big display, loud receiver and ringer and an emergency button. Details here: http://www.emporia.at/shop/gb/index.php

I first saw this phone at a trade show in 2005 and thought it was a great idea then – I am astounded it has taken so long to come to market and that it has not had a bigger profile in the media.

It’s amazing how many times I ask people for feedback on a phone and they say the keys are too fiddly or the screen is too difficult to read – particularly older people. This phone not only addresses those issues but has the emergency button on the back which could be a lifesaver for an elderly person who gets into difficulties.iKids phone

Being a parent I’d always thought that there was a great opportunity in a kids phone and gave my son the i-kids device (see picture) – this phone has four pre-assigned buttons and integrated GPS so you can track your child – the problem is that it’s a commercial non-starter. No retailer, channel or network is prepared to take the risk of having products targeted at children because of health and liability issues.

Those issues don’t really matter in a “grey” phone. An elderly pensioner probably already has enough health issues to worry about and won’t be concerned by few extra radio waves. Furthermore I believe there is a massive commercial opportunity to market this phone to children who are concerned about elderly parents. There is no question that most responsible off-spring would be more than happy to pay for a phone like this to give them peace of mind as much as providing a valuable way of helping old people maintain their independence.

Although there have been some efforts to offer something like this in Japan with the Raku-Raku “simple phone” (see here: http://www.symbian.com/phones/foma_rakusimple.html) right now none of the major phone manufacturers have targeted this space aggressively. Perhaps its time for that to change given the demographic shifts in Western Europe.

Pictures of the Emporia phone:

Emporia phone