Baby boomers and their parents haven’t been quick to adopt mobile phones, even for use in emergencies. The technology is too complicated for many to learn quickly, and the screens and controls too diminutive for aging or infirm hands.
GreatCall aims to change that with its Jitterbug phones, due out in September 2006 (but available in test markets in the coming months). GreatCall operates as an MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) using the Sprint network, and, while the Jitterbug phone is built by Samsung, it was designed by GreatCall to appeal to seniors and other markets where traditional mobile phones are too awkward or complicated to be practical. The Jitterbug offers big buttons, easy-to-read text, and simplified, easy-to-use functions, an ear cushion, and an ergonomic shape. Personalized services make it easy for users to retrieve messages, and offers live operators for call-related support.
One Jitterbug phone (the Jitterbug Dial) offers a traditional 12-key button set for dialing, but another model (the JitterBug Onetouch) sports three oversized buttons for users who primarily want a cell phone for emergency purposes, such as elderly or disabled users who need to be able to summon assistance with the push of a single button. One button dials 911, one summons live-operator call assistance, and the third can be programmed for any service the user wants, such as an emergency number, a towing service reception at an assisted living facility, or a loved one.
Pricing details on the Jitterbug phones and GreatCall service haven’t been announced, but the JItterbug was named the 3rd place winner of the Wireless Emerging Technologies Award in the hardware/mobile category at the CTIA conference in Las Vegas.