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Older consumers didn't want to admit to being old

Emporia Telecom, an Austrian cellphone company, has expanded production since T-Mobile, the largest German mobile operator, began selling its TalkPremium model for seniors. The phone has a large keypad and is built for voice- and text-messaging.

The very young and the elderly have never been target markets for high-tech companies, which focus instead on the global mainstream. But with the economic downturn reducing growth, companies are applying cutting-edge technology to the often-neglected extremes of the consumer spectrum.


In the 1980s, Sony tried to design products with older consumers in mind, said Fujio Nishida, president of Sony Europe. But the effort did not work and has not been tried since. Seniors rejected Sony's clock-radio with simple mechanical dials and large buttons, Mr. Nishida said.

"Even though the design was helpful for them, it turned out that a lot of older consumers didn't want to admit to being old," Mr. Nishida said. "So they didn't buy it."

Electronics Reach Out to the Ends of the Age Spectrum
Published: September 7, 2009
The big electronics companies have focused on the mass market. Clipped by the recession, they are looking at the very young and the old.


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