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Almost 40% of people in 20’s support simple handheld mobile terminals -- Unexpected finding

10, 10. 2008

   It is a matter of course that mobile phones are fitted with extra functions that make it possible to send and receive text messages and to access internet webs. Most of mobile phones have the functions of cameras and 1seg TV receivers. There are also mobile phones that can be used as "wallets" or for making calls overseas. Surprisingly, however, a survey conducted on the internet found that nearly 40% of people in their 20's are satisfied with "mobile phones with as few functions as they need" against the general trend of mobile phones equipped with more and more functions.

About half of women like simple mobiles

   A mobile phone nowadays many extra functions. Nissan Motor, Sharp and NTT have jointly developed mobile phones that have the function that is used to open and close car doors and start and shut off engines. They are expected to be put on the market in fiscal 2009. Further, the smartphone that is integrated with the "iPhone", the handheld terminal made by Apple, and the "BlackBerry", the handheld device for business use, is popularly talked about.

   While mobile phones are carrying more and more features, a survey conducted by the net marketing company iShare Inc., based in Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture, showed an unexpected finding. The survey asked 801 men and women in their 20's to 40's which of the two types of mobile phones they are most interest in, one with many functions or simple one. Forty percent of them said "simple mobiles" as their reply.

   The respondents in the survey who preferred simple mobile devices to ones with many functions accounted for 47.7% of the women and 36.9% of the men. Nearly half of the women support the simple mobile devices. By the age group, they accounted for 38.6% of those in their 20's, 40.1% of those in their 30's and 44.8% of those in their 40's. The survey showed many of the people in their 20's also supported simple mobile phones. As reasons, they noted that they are "satisfied with only functions they need" and that the handheld terminals with many functions "are to complicated and difficult to use". The survey was conducted between Aug. 27 and 29.

   The simple mobile phone is the easy-to-use handheld terminals like the "Raku-raku (easy) Phone" sold by NTTDoCoMo, of which the functions are limited to making calls and sending text messages. The accumulated sale of the "Raku-raku Phone" has topped 10 million units. It is said that such easy phones are popular only among senior people. Is it true they are attracting the young people as indicated by the survey?

SoftBank sells mobiles with reduced functioning for women

   NTTDoCoMo now sells as the 2008 summer model the "706ie" series which have only a limited number of functions. Like the "Raku-raku Phone", they are targeted not only at seniors but also at the people of the age groups from the 20's to 50's. Four different models of such phones are available. The "SH706ie" which is targeted mainly at the people in their 20's to 30's have the clear vocal transmission device and screens that show letters clearly for easy reading. The person in charge of public relations said:

"While a progress is made in the production of handheld terminals with multiple functions, voices are heard expressing the desire for simple ones not only from seniors but also from the people of all ages. The meaning of simplicity of the functions differs, however, from a person to person who uses them. That is why we prepared the four different models."

   SoftBank Mobile sells several 2008 summer models each with a limited number of functions aimed at selling to women. Functions, such as GPS, Bluetooth and using like wallet that are fitted to almost all phones sold by the company are omitted from the summer models. According to a person in charge of public relations at the company, women are more interested in easiness rather than multi-functions about their handheld terminals. Because of this, the models designed for use by women have push buttons that are easy for pressing by women who have long fingernails, and they are made small in size so that they can be easily held by small hands of women. The 1seg and photographing functions, which young people have to have on their mobile phones, are not omitted.

   About the result of the survey which showed that nearly 40% of the people in their 20's to 40's prefer simple mobile terminals, the person in charge of public relations said:

"Though they say they want simple devices, many young people still want camera and 1seg functions. I don't think they want the simple mobile phones designed especially for seniors and the young."

   He also said that the reason the young people's supporting simple mobile devices might be that the simple devices are priced lower than those with multiple functions.

   The mobile phone companies have been reviewing their rating systems since November 2007, and they raised the prices of the terminals in return for lowering the monthly rates. The going prices for new mobile terminal models are about 50,000 yen for those with multi-functions and about 30,000 yen for simple terminals for the difference of 20,000 yen between the two types. It seems that the users feel they can not make use of all the functions that are fitted to their devices. Then they would rather go for lower-priced simple ones fitted with only functions they might need.

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