Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Cell Phones for Junior

With the entry of kid-specific cell phones and services, the San Francisco Chronicle reports on what the mobile industry is hoping is an untapped and profitable market. According to the article, 80 percent of adults between 18 and 65 own a cell phone but only 10 percent of preteens have one.

The article looks at some of the companies getting into the act such as LeapFrog with EnFora, FireFly and Wherify. Most of the offerings will "incorporate parental controls, protected phone lists, prepaid calling minutes and a GPS monitoring device."

According to Julie Ask at JupiterResearch, even if the market is untapped, profits might not be as big as expected and kids could grow out of the phones faster and ask for more sophisticated cell phones. "There's certainly a market there for parents who want to find and track their kids and call when they're in trouble or they're late. It's one of the few open frontiers for carriers," Ask said.

With the ubiquitous family plans here in the U.S., it might be more cost-effective for parents to just give kids their older handsets and upgrade (I can never pass up an opportunity to get a new handset) or purchase an extra plain vanilla model from their carrier...