UK MNOs missing out on emergency phones for kids

Parents less likely to churn if offered deal on emergency phone

LG Migo 'Shrek' phone

Here at GoMo Towers, we have just made a significant discovery. Whilst the market for emergency phones aimed at young children is extremely healthy in some geographies (especially the USA), such devices are virtually non-existent in the UK (and probably most of Europe, too). We’d argue that Brit mobile network operators [MNOs] and mobile virtual network operators [MVNOs] are definitely missing out on a chance for customer retention here. Our research shows that offering parents with young children such a product would encourage them to stay with their current provider and would therefore reduce ‘churn’.

The concept of a ‘kiddies emergency mobile phone’ is straight forward and such devices could be provided to elderly folk who are techno-refuzniks.

One of the main features of an emergency phone is that it is possible to pre-program dedicated speed-dial buttons (usually four of them) plus an emergency button.

Those numbers could them be programmed for the parents, friends and family. [Many models offer GPS tracking, too].

For the emergency number rather than using the standard 999 or 112 (911 in the USA) for emergency services, it would be possible to program the emergency number as 101.

In the UK, 101 is the number to dial the police service for non-emergencies and the agent can gauge whether it is an emergency or not.

One advantage to giving a young child a phone which can only dial five numbers is that the youngster wouldn’t be able to run up a massive phone bill.

We’d argue that if MNOs or MVNOs tied the tariff for such a handset in with a parent’s existing contract, then that person would be less likely to churn and move to an alternative supplier.

The market for the actual emergency phone devices itself appears to be split in two: – one type is designed to appeal directly to kids and the other is just very simple (and therefore can be sold to the elderly as well).

We’re grateful to an article in Roo Girl entitled 35 cell phones for kids, which lists ten handsets aimed specifically at young children.

Examples of the kid style handset are the LG Migo – dubbed the ‘Shrek phone’; the Buddy Bear Phone; theĀ  iBaby a88; and the Sanoxy GSM Phone.

The simplistic type of handset in this article is represented by the Just5. However, in Europe there are handsets marketed directly at seniors by Doro which could be sold to kids as well.

A good example of UK operators missing out on selling a kids emergency phones which GoMo News found was TalkTalk which mentions the LG Migo here but has not link to its MVNO division.

This really is a great opportunity which Brit operators in particular are missing out on.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
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