Japan’s leading cellular operator by subscribers, NTT DoCoMo, is to target the country’s growing elderly population as it attempts to regain market share lost to rivals. While its competitors are able to target younger users with offerings based on the popular Apple iPhone, DoCoMo does not offer the iPhone, so is looking instead to another demographic, Bloomberg reports. The population of Japan is ageing faster than any other country, with government statistics showing that 23% of the population is now aged 65 or over. Furthermore, while spending among younger people declined in 2011 according to figures released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, spending by those older than 69 was up 0.4% last year.
One service being utilised by DoCoMo to target older customers is a voice-recognition app called Shabette Concier, which enables a user to control their handset with their voice rather than the keypad. Using the small keypads on mobile handsets is something many older people find difficult, and DoCoMo says the voice control service now has two million subscribers. The firm is also holding demo classes for older users, and is introducing handsets with simple functions and larger fonts. 24% of DoCoMo’s 60 million subscribers are 60 or older, the cellco says.
Separately, DoCoMo is also considering the introduction of a cut-price tariff plan for its Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G customers. The cheapest LTE plan currently costs JPY5,985 (USD75.65) for 7GB of bandwidth per month, but a report from Telecompaper, which cites local newspaper The Nikkei, says that the carrier is likely to begin offering a plan later this year with a 3GB download limit for around JPY4,000-JPY5,500.