With the cell phone market saturated with 90 million contracts, handset makers and phone companies are moving to create new demand by focusing on children and safety.
New kid-friendly mobile phones are seeing brisk sales, indicating parents are willing to shell out, even in a saturated market, to ensure their children’s safety.
Industry analysts reckon the sales stem in part from rise in attacks on children going to and from school or after-school activities.
The newest phones appeal to children with cute designs and easy-to-read monitors, but they also address parents’ concerns with various functions, including crime alarms and settings to prevent excessive use.
NTT DoCoMo Inc. launched its Kids Keitai SA800i in March and quickly sold about 80,000 units. KDDI Corp. introduced the Junior Keitai A5520SA in February and found that it was selling out at some outlets.
DoCoMo’s phone features an extremely loud alarm that is activated by a switch on the back of the handset. It automatically tells parents where their children are by e-mailing their global positioning system coordinates. But parents must subscribe to a separate GPS service to use this feature.
KDDI’s Junior Keitai does the same thing if the buzzer is activated.
According to the carriers, 90 percent of the subscribers to children’s mobile phones are new. NTT DoCoMo President Masao Nakamura said customers buying cell phones are always interested in their functions, but those seeking handsets for kids put safety features first.
Toy maker Bandai Co. is teaming up with Wilcom Inc., a major provider of personal handy-phone system services, to offer kids’ PHS services in June.