Tuesday, 25 July 2017

European operators miss out on revenue from untapped seniors market

By Nick Wood , Total Telecom in Barcelona
Tuesday 26 February 13

Fujitsu says its new Stylistic S01 can help drive data usage among 55-plus age group.

At a time when European operators are trying to drive high-ARPU smartphone uptake, seniors' reticence to adopt data-hungry devices represents a missed revenue opportunity. In Europe, "smartphone penetration in the 55-to-65 age group is less than 20%. In the 65-plus category it's less than 2%," claimed Fujitsu's EMEA product marketing director, James Maynard. "That surprised me," he told Total Telecom on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday. "It means there is a significant group within that age…

At a time when European operators are trying to drive high-ARPU smartphone uptake, seniors' reticence to adopt data-hungry devices represents a missed revenue opportunity.

In Europe, "smartphone penetration in the 55-to-65 age group is less than 20%. In the 65-plus category it's less than 2%," claimed Fujitsu's EMEA product marketing director, James Maynard.

"That surprised me," he told Total Telecom on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday. "It means there is a significant group within that age-range that is not catered for, that faces a choice between very basic feature phones or very complicated smartphones, but does not want either."

He said Fujitsu aims to address a segment of consumers that "don't want to be left behind by technology".

The Japan-based electronics maker announced last year its intention to bring its Raku Raku (Japanese for 'easy easy') handsets to Europe, and last week it signed a multi-country partnership with Orange that will see its latest smartphone hit the shelves in France in June.

Going under the same name that Fujitsu has adopted for the tablets and laptops it offers in Europe, the mid-range Stylistic S01 is packed with hardware, software and services that make it easier for older consumers to get to grips with the smartphone experience.

On the hardware side, Fujitsu has incorporated what it calls its human-centric engine. A collection of more than 50 individual technologies, it does everything from make the touchscreen easier to use by emitting focused vibrations right under the user's finger, to monitoring the background noise levels so it can employ the appropriate noise-cancelling technique. It also optimises the frequency of the sound a voice call emits from the speaker according to the user's age because older people struggle to hear higher-frequency sounds, and even fractionally increases the tiny silences between words so the person you are speaking to sounds as though they are enunciating more clearly over the phone.

On the software and services side, the Stylistic S01 runs a version of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) that has been heavily-modified to make it more intuitive and simple to use, while pre-loaded apps and news and information services make it easier to access information online while at the same time familiarising users with the smartphone experience. When browsing the Internet, the phone automatically removes ads and blocks unnecessary pop-ups and dialogue boxes to avoid causing confusion.

"We have not stripped anything out or limited anything; it can do everything that every other smartphone can do, it is just presented in a way that makes it easier to use," explained Maynard. "It's a migration path to the smartphone experience."

However, getting the device into the hands of Fujitsu's target market throws up some interesting challenges.

"We need to drive the association between Fujitsu and the [European] mobile industry," said Maynard, who explained that publicising deals like the one struck with France Telecom is one good way to do that.

In addition, "there is a large proportion of our target age group who will ask their children for advice about which phone to buy, so we need to influence that group as well," he said.

"The outcome from many of the conversations we've been having here [in Barcelona] has been people saying, 'I should get hold of one of those for my Dad'."

There is also a need to train retail staff to focus on pitching the features and functions most likely to appeal to the over-50 market.

"That is something we have been working on with France Telecom," said Maynard.

He claimed Fujitsu has not set performance targets.

"We want to be here, delivering consistently good products in 10 years' time," he said. "We're not coming here to set massive targets that we're going to be held to.

"We need to grow steadily," he said.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Newsletter signup

Quickly get on board and up to date with the telecoms industry