Fujitsu and DoCoMo Release Raku-Raku, Age-Friendly Smartphone
By: Nicholas Barracca, intern, AARP Office of International Affairs
Publish Date: October
Product name: Fujitsu Raku-Raku
Use: Smartphone for Aging Population
Availability: Now Available in Japan, pilot in France
The recent technological boom in the mobile smartphone market is radically changing communication. Smartphone developers traditionally market to the millennial generation by advertising their recent upgrades to multimedia features or their endless application markets. However, a new “niche” market has emerged to provide the aging population with user-friendly smartphones.
Fujitsu, a Japanese IT equipment and service company, has released a smartphone equipped with user-friendly features for older consumers. The Raku-Raku phone, or "easy-to-use", made its debut in 2001 as a simple flip phone in Japan and has sold over 20 million devices. Last summer in August 2012, Fujitsu partnered with NTT DoCoMo, a mobile operator in Japan, to develop the first Raku-Raku smartphone. This summer in August of 2013, Fujitsu and DoCoMo released a newly improved second generation of the Raku Raku smartphone.
The second generation of the Raku Raku has answered the concerns of aging smartphone users with simple feature changes. While the Raku-Raku may be a touch screen, the phone requires a harder push to record an entry giving the allusion of pushing a button. The LCD screen is bright and designed to make the screen visible in touch environments such as in the light on a sunny day. The camera feature is a simple side button, which can be opened from any point on the phone without having to make setting changes to the interface. Other key features include pre-installed apps that are designed for aging user’s lifestyle such as an emergency safety button which notifies a friend or family member of the users GPS location.
Fujitsu and DoCoMo found major success in Japan the last two years and look to export the technology. Fujitsu launched a pilot program with French operator Orange, which will now bring the Raku-Raku smartphone to France with the option of more European expansion into the UK. What’s herald now as an emerging and underserved market, other users in Europe are looking to release age-friendly smartphones. As the median population age increases, there will be older tech-savy users looking to use age-friendly smartphones.
Original NY Times Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/technology/japanese-phone-firm-sees-export-market-in-older-users.html