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  • Writer's pictureSlashData Team

Not-so-simple facts about Vodafone Simply

Vodafone’s Simply handset range has been a pioneering approach at unique handset customisation from a mobile operator. Not only does Simply effectively target a niche segment which craves easy-to-use handsets, but it does so by redefining the entire user interface and hardware ergonomics.

Since May 2005, three Simply handsets have been launched; the Sagem VS1, a silver, stylish handset, the Sagem VS2, a simple black candy bar design and the Sagem VS3, a silver flip-phone design.

Vodafone Sagem Simply VS1
Vodafone Sagem Simply VS2
Vodafone Sagem Simply VS3

Here’s some not-so-simple facts about Vodafone Simply that I uncovered recently:

1. Coming soon: the fourth Simply handset For those that were wondering if the line of Simply handsets had been a long-term strategy for Vodafone, the wait is over. The GCF (Global Certification Forum) lists the ‘Vodafone Simply Sagem VS4’ handset as having been certified on 24 May 2006. [updated] According to this post, the VS4 will have a slim form factor.

2. It wasn’t just a Sagem job Some little known facts about Sagem’s Simply handsets: The UI and information architecture were designed by Vodafone’s in-house User Experience team, which collaborated with US-based market research firm UsableProducts for usability design and testing, while the hardware design was by IDEO, the US-based industrial design house also credited with designing Apple’s mouse in 1980. As for the software, it was designed by a Paris-based UI technogy company.

3. Simply is targeted at the 34-54 year-old segment If you were like me, you ‘d have thought that the Simply handsets were targeted at the elderly segment. A Vodafone presentation from June 2005 states otherwise. Apparently, the Vodafone Simply proposition, comprising of handsets, customer service and dedicated calling plan, has been designed for a consumer segment the operator calls ?adult personal users?. This segment is the largest in Vodafone?s market segmentation, made up of 35-54 year olds, married with children, mostly female, with a low comfort or interest in technology. Makes sense.

4. The simple handset paradigm is becoming popular Apart from DoCoMo’s Raku Raku and TuKa’s S phone, there have been attempts at creating simple handsets in US and Japan. US-based Jitterbug for example is planning to launch their Samsung-designed handsets with a three-button interface, while Austrian-based Emporia is soon to launch their EmporiaLife handsets with completely redesigned hardware and software, including a big red emergency button on the back. If handsets weren’t so much about fashion and personality, I bet most people would opt for a simple handset that does voice and text really well and does away with the 80% of the functionality that only 20% (or rather 2%) of people use.

One thing is for sure. The market for uniquely customised handsets is rapidly emerging aided by Customised Design Manufacturers such as Modelabs and tier-2 OEMs such as Alcatel, of ELLE GlamPhone fame. The ‘simple’ handsets are but one segment that uniquely customised handsets will cater to.

As Apple says, one has to think different!

Andreas

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