We’ve all been there. Those family occasions, be it a cousin’s birthday party or just a run-of-the-mill Sunday lunch, when you look over at Granddad in despair. He has his mobile in the palm of his left hand, glasses slipping down his nose, and you’re not quite sure whether he’s attempting to type out a text or answer a call.
The fact is, though, he owns a phone, and his demographic is becoming a segment of growing importance for mobile phone manufacturers.
When you think of the mobile business, it has all the characteristics of being a young industry, especially when you consider the wealth of cutting edge devices that are being released with great frequency. Smartphones now dominate sales in the sector, while product makers keep churning out innovative devices from smart watches to Google Glass. If last month’s Mobile World Congress is anything to go by then that trend will keep on developing.
However, if you take a look at population statistics of the UK there is a significant chunk of people who are over 65 years of age that need to be accommodated (10 million and counting according to government statistics). Getting to grips with new tech may be a challenge for this group, although not everyone the wrong side of 65 is like my hypothetical Granddad.
It makes sense, therefore, for manufacturers to take advantage of this burgeoning market to try to gain market share. Mobile spoke to Chris Millington of Doro and James Atkins of Kazam, both of whom see this market as lucrative and partially untapped.
Doro has of course pinpointed this particular segment and made it its niche. Judging by its 2013 results it is gaining good traction, especially in nations like Germany where the aging population is large. Britain’s collection of ‘baby boomers’ is also sizeable and on the hunt for advanced tech according to Millington.
The manufacturer’s UK MD highlighted research revealing that almost half of this country’s senior population wanted to invest in a smartphone, although he also conceded barriers for adoption are very high as only one in ten 65+ year-olds owns a smartphone. Doro released its first smartphone last November, and while there are more on the horizon for 2014, feature phones are still likely to be the weapon of choice for seniors again in 2014.
Kazam, by contrast, came onto the scene in 2013 to muscle its way in to the highly competitive smartphone market, although its strategy for 2014 seems to have taken on another dimension. Easy-to-use feature phones will be at the heart of an expanded portfolio when it eventually comes to market in the UK, highlighting the importance of the senior market in its quest for share against industry giants like Samsung and Apple.