Trendy Oldies

BARCELONA, Spain, Feb 16, 2007 (AFP) – It could be the answer to grandma’s prayers: a mobile phone designed specifically for the over-65s that aims to take the fear out of technology and get the elderly connected. A small Austrian company shrugged off the buzz of innovation and youth-oriented marketing at the 3GSM mobile phone trade show this week and showcased a simple handset for the growing ‘grey market’.

“Our market research showed that the elderly have problems using complicated phones,” said Reinhard Handlgruber, export manager for Emporia Telecom, which is based in Linz.

“What they want is a big screen, a big key pad and an easy to use menu.”

Emporia carried out market research in rest homes and discovered latent demand for mobile or cell phones from the over-65s.

The handset they developed has no digital camera, Internet access or instant messaging capabilities, but it does include a button to call relatives or friends in an emergency, is compatible with hearing aids and can run on regular AAA batteries.

“There are 110 million people over 65 in Europe and Russia and only 17 percent have mobile phones,” according to Handlgruber.

None of the mainstream handset manufacturers has