Orange targets senior citizens with Fujitsu smartphone

The launch of the Stylistic S01 represents Fujitsu's first major push into the smartphone market outside Japan

Orange hopes to increase smartphone use among seniors with the Fujitsu Stylistic S01, which uses a number of technologies to make the phone a better fit for users who are over 65 years old.

The Android-based device will first go on sale in France, where Orange's smartphone penetration among senior citizens is only about 20 percent. A majority of Orange's senior-citizen mobile phone subscribers in the country do not own smartphones, but express interest in switching to one, according to Augustin Becquet [cq], head of Orange's devices portfolio.

The water- and dust-resistant smartphone has a 4-inch screen, an 8.1-megapixel camera and a 1.4GHz processor.

But the basic specification isn't what makes the S01 a good fit for an older audience, according to Orange. The smartphone has a screen technology that requires users to apply the same level of pressure to on-screen icons as they would to buttons on a keypad. This helps improve input accuracy, Orange said.

The user interface has extra-large icons and a simplified layout for easier operation. The S01 is also equipped with a personal security alarm and audio technology that tailors the frequency range based on a user's age to make it easier to hear the person on the other end of the call, Orange said.

The features are currently also in use on the Fujitsu Raku-Raku phone series for seniors, which is sold by NTT DoCoMo.

For Fujitsu, the launch of the S01 is the company's first major foray into the smartphone market outside Japan. But as Panasonic's failed attempt to push outside the Japanese market last year suggests, success is not assured.

Taking aim at an underserved part of the smartphone market is a shrewd move by Fujitsu, according to Pete Cunningham [cq], principal analyst at market research company Canalys. If the company were to come out with a standard Android-based smartphone to try to compete with Apple and Samsung Electronics, it would without a doubt fail, he said.

Fujitsu was the third-largest smartphone maker in Japan, with a 12 percent market share, during the fourth quarter, trailing Apple and Sharp, according to Canalys. Its worldwide market share was just 0.5 percent.

Pricing hasn't been announced, but the Fujitsu Stylistic will start shipping in June. The S01 will be on display in both Orange's and Fujitsu's booths at Mobile World Congress, which starts on Feb. 25.

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