In a bid to attract customers put off by increasingly complex mobile communication offerings, Vodafone today launched an easy-to-use service designed for customers who only want a mobile phone with voice and text services.
The operator's Vodafone Simply package comprises two basic handsets and service options.
"We have many customers who want the latest mobile phone with all the advanced services from full-track music downloads to video calling and mobile TV," said Peter Bamford, chief marketing officer at Vodafone Group. "We also have customers who just want to make and receive calls and text messages."
Vodafone said that the offerings were created following extensive user research. Customers were asked how they wanted their ideal phone to look, what services it should offer, how these services should be accessed and how the phone menus should be structured.
The operator then asked Sagem to develop two basic handsets: the Vodafone Simply Sagem VS1 and VS2.
Both have three dedicated buttons for direct access to the most commonly used services: the Main Screen, Contacts and Messages. A button on the side of each phone controls ringer volume, and a switch locks the key pad.
Both phones offer a voice mail service designed to work like a standard home answering machine. The Messages button on the phones lights up to notify the customer when a call or text has been received. To listen to or read the message, the customer needs only to press the Messages button.
In addition, the Vodafone Simply service offers a missed call notification service. If a call is missed, or a caller does not leave a voice message, the user receives an on-screen notification.
Customers using the services will be offered the choice of a pre-pay handset at £80, or a free handset with a monthly price plan.
Ovum analyst Carrie Pawsey noted: "Without explicitly stating it, this service is aimed at the older generation and it's encouraging that Vodafone has recognised that this segment is currently under-serviced.
"With many operators focusing on the youth market, and some developing phones for children, the older segment has been largely ignored to date. Vodafone Simply seems to have been well thought out with the core segment in mind."
The service will be available in Portugal, Spain and the UK from 24 May, and through Vodafone Germany, Vodafone Greece, Vodafone New Zealand, Vodafone Sweden and Swisscom Mobile from 1 June, and Mobilkom Austria in July.
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