Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Jitterbug

First off, whatever the product is, what a great name.....

Second, the product sounds great, too.

Jitterbug is a (Samsung) cell phone cum service for people who are just looking for, well, a plain old-fashioned, no jive cell phone. Not a video camera. Not a PC. Not an e-mail device. Not a scheduler. Not a walkie-talkie. A cell phone.

It's the brainchild of an outfit called Great Call, and here's what they have to say for themselves:

GreatCall created Jitterbug to provide Baby Boomers and their parents with perfectly simple cell phones and services that work the way they want them to. Jitterbug is designed to be the best telephone a cell phone can be. Nothing more. Nothing less.

The company's mission is to simplify technology and make it available to everyone. Jitterbug’s products, services and systems are centered on simplicity, personalization and ease of use.

While their market is Baby Boomers and their parents, I think that the operative words here are "and their parents." Even though the first wave of BB's turned 60 last year, I don't see the average Boomer giving up their tech toys quite so soon. (Give us a few years, though, and those large, back-lit buttons may start to look really good.) But for anyone who's worried about their parents or other elderly loved-ones and wants the comfort of knowing that help is just a cell-phone call away, Jitterbug looks like a must.

Jitterbug comes in two flavors, Jitterbug Dial and Jitterbug OneTouch.

Jitterbug Dial is aimed at those who would rather have easier to read numbers than the ability to text in their vote on American Idol.  It also has a few other nifty features like a cushioned rim to help block out background noise.

I'm guessing that Jitterbug OneTouch will be the real big seller for those who are worried about their parents.  It's got three calling buttons: Jitterbug Operator, 911, and a personalized button. You can also have a phone list - accessible simply through scrolling and Yes/No - that Jitterbug will set up for you. (Or you can update it yourself - or for your folks - on Jitterbug's site.)

Other elder-friendly features include hearing aid compatibility, use of the familiar dial tone, and easy speakerphone activation. I can sure see this replacing those "I've fallen and I can't get up" alert buttons.

Truly, I can't imagine anyone not wanting their aging parents to have a Jitterbug, especially if they're still driving (which I know, first and second hand, can give the Boomers a real case of the jitters).

The simple functionality - a phone is a phone is a phone - should be plenty enough for the greatest generation. After all, they're never in a million years going to want to watch Casablanca or The Best Years of our Lives on their phones. They're never going to want to listen to the collected works of Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey on their phones.  They have no desire to text message "Kilroy was here." And, unless Ted Williams or Greta Garbo comes back from the dead, they're never going to use their phones to take a picture of a celebrity walking by. (Just who is Paris Hilton?)

Basically, most older folks are going to use their cell phones to get help and/or call their kids to get help for them.

Jitterbug'll do it.

We will, of course, be seeing more and more of these products aimed at helping people adapt to aging, and keeping older people more independent and on their own. Chairs that help you lift yourself up. Electric tea kettles that turn themselves off (rather than whistle on until the bottom burns itself out).  Devices that help you unscrew jar tops.

Most of these are aimed at the BB 'rents generation, but as the Boomers edge up their, they'll start to look better and better to us, too.

Personally, what I'd like is something that would help me differentiate black from navy blue in the dawn's early light. My spectrum lamp doesn't quite do it.

So Jitterbug's a great idea, and next time Icatch myself fumbling for a number in my phone list, or trying to remember how to de-activate speakerphone, I'm sure I'll forget what I said about Baby Boomers not yet ready to forego cool tech, and get myself a Jitterbug.

Yes, it's nice to have that neat  picture of the Brooklyn Bridge on my screen. And I guess it's good to know I could get web access if I wanted to. But, fundamentally, it's a phone.

The more I think about the Jitterbug, the better it looks.

1 comment:

katrog said...

And I'm gonna tell you--until they can implant that phone into our 'rents so that it activates automatically by thought waves--some of them are still gonna leave it at home, drop it down the storm drain, let the batteries run dead, etc. --so they won't have to use it. :)

Kathleen