Japanese Mobile Phone Company Courts Older Adults

To make up ground on the iPhone, a Japanese electronic company - NTT DoCoMo - has focused on the aging population which finds Apple, and other smartphones, too difficult to learn and apply.

DoCoMo, has manufactured expressly designed phones with voice-recognition software to win over Japan’s fastest-growing market share: the elderly. A special DoCoMo app permits users to utilize voice recognition for their phones, a popular selling point with Japanese elderly who find difficulties with keypads.

DoCoMo is showing business savvy, since Japan is the most rapidly aging developed society, with 23 percent of the population 65 or older.

Toshihiro Nagahama, chief economist at Dai-ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo told Bloomberg Businessweek: “Growth for a consumer business in the coming decade relies on cultivating the elderly market.” He added, “They tend to be affluent and loose on their purse strings.”

Sixty plus adults or older compose 24 percent of DoCoMo’s customers. The carrier is ahead of rivals in marketing to the elderly, but analysts say that other companies will follow suit and wage heavy competition. "It’s a big business opportunity,” Shinji Moriyuki, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Bloomberg.

The bullish feeling in the market is that handsets tailored for old people will create demand. Nagahama remarked, “Japan’s elderly are young in spirit.”