Japan’s population is aging rapidly — by 2025 its median age will be 50 years old. The country’s largest mobile phone network operator, DoCoMo, is going after that target market by designing smart phones for the elderly. The older demographic might be a good one for smart phones — right now only 6% own one. But maybe there is a reason only 6% have smart phones. This reminds me of the story of the two shoe salesmen sent to Africa to see if there was a market for their product. One reports back, “This is a terrible business opportunity, no one wears shoes here.” The other reports, “This is a great opportunity, no one wears shoes here.”
DoCoMo sees opportunity, and they have designed voice controlled phones (like iPhone’s Siri) and phones with on-screen buttons that automate common activities like writing an e-mail. This Bloomberg Businessweek article, “DoCoMo Looks for Growth Among Japan’s Elderly,” (June 28, 2012) also describes some of DoCoMo’s promotion efforts.
Read the article, check out the video clip. What else could DoCoMo do to make smart phones more appealing to elderly Japanese? Think about all four Ps.