Fujitsu’s Senior-Focused Smartphone Is A Thoughtful Use Of Android That Tucks Away Complexity

stylistic-homescreen-2

Japanese electronics company Fujitsu has taken its time pushing beyond its home smartphone market. The company is best known for slick, slender high end smartphones in Japan but earlier this month it announced a European play — eschewing the crowded top tier of devices in favour of a niche in the seniors space, with a custom skinned Android-based smartphone. The Stylistic S-01 is designed to be easier for older people to use. Fujitsu is bringing the device to France in partnership with France Telecom/Orange in June but was showing it off at Mobile World Congress, where we went hands on.

Now Fujitsu is not the first to enter the senior mobile space. Other established players include Emporia, which basically makes simplified feature phones, and Doro, which makes a mix of devices (including dabbling in tablet software). Doro was showing off its own Android-based seniors phone at MWC last year so, again, Fujitsu is a follower here too. But late to the party though it is, it has crafted what feels like a solid and well thought through first offering.

The handset has a rubberised coating to add grip and more curves than the sleek, slick high end smartphones du jour so rests nicely on the palm and feels less inclined to take a tumble than the average slab phone. On the front, there’s a clearly labelled home button below the 4 inch touchscreen. The button is slightly convex making it stand out so it’s easy to press. The buttons on the side of the device — power and volume up & down keys on one side, plus a dedicated camera key on the other — are also labelled (albeit with icons). These keys are raised slightly but don’t feel like they stick out enough to press accidentally.

Click to view slideshow.

Fujitsu has made the Stylistic S-01′s capacitive touchscreen deliberately less sensitive to cut back on erroneous key presses for a target group of users which isn’t likely to be as dexterous as the average mobile owner. The screen didn’t feel awkwardly unresponsive during my hands on but on-screen buttons did sometimes need a more deliberate press — which seems like a reassuring feature for the intended user-base.

There are a couple of odd hardware touches. The Micro USB port sits behind a cover which has to be prised off with a fingernail. The cover has likely been included because the phone is dust and waterproof but it does mean that accessing the charging port isn’t as easy as it could be.

The phone is also equipped with an alarm — in case of emergencies. This makes a loud noise to alert people in the vicinity that the owner is in trouble and also dials out pre-chosen contacts. The alarm is located on the back of the device, to the left of the camera lens. The physical switch is rather small and again has to be pushed out with a fingernail or similar. Of course it’s no good having the alarm go off accidentally but in an emergency it could prove a little difficult to activate.

Android but not as you know it

Moving on to the software, this is where the phone really stands out from the Android crowd, thanks to a simplified custom UI that foregrounds key functions, tucks away complexity and does a spot of thoughtful hand-holding — with help buttons and guides and even a phone manual included on the device. The homescreen is divided up into large, clearly labelled icons that decrease in size as you scroll down to reach functions that are likely to be accessed less. The two largest buttons are the call button, and the phonebook (a much more senior-friendly way to describe contacts).

Messages and email also appear on screen at the top of the homescreen, along with three numbered buttons that can be pre-set with specific functions for quick access. Scroll further down and there’s an info widget displaying news updates and weather. Below that, there are a variety of phone functions laid out in a grid of squares — and again clearly labelled. These include Internet, camera, maps, video, gallery, a help forum and a manual. The only button that stands out as slightly obtuse is the one labelled ‘Play Store’ (thanks Google).

Android apps can be downloaded to the phone via the Play Store, or via a ‘download apps’ button. Other preloaded apps are tucked away under ‘More applications’ and ‘Orange services’ — so although the phone has been simplified, the functionality has not been removed entirely. Rather they are cleared out of harm’s way until the user feels confident enough to drill a little deeper.

There are lots of thoughtful little touches in the design, such as the Phonebook app being made to resemble a traditional filofax, and the button called ‘My number’ to help users out who can’t remember their phone number. The gallery also includes a ‘Take a picture’ button, to steer anyone who went into the gallery looking for the camera in the right direction. The back button is also clearly labelled with the word ‘back’ — rather than having a cryptic symbol to confuse people. And the browser has a question mark button at the top which leads to a help page to explain the browsing process for first time mobile web users.

Elsewhere apps are nicely stripped down, simplified and clearly labelled — such as the camera app, which has just a camera button and a flash toggle button, and the dialler app which has two folder-style tabs to show either a dial option, or history (for call log). Time has clearly been well spent by the UI designer figuring out an intelligent way to layer a smartphone for a senior user-base that will probably feel most comfortable taking small steps away from telephones in order to get to know smartphones.

Click to view slideshow.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Fujitsu’s Senior-Focused Smartphone Is A Thoughtful Use Of Android That Tucks Away Complexity

stylistic-homescreen-2

Japanese electronics company Fujitsu has taken its time pushing beyond its home smartphone market. The company is best known for slick, slender high end smartphones in Japan but earlier this month it announced a European play — eschewing the crowded top tier of devices in favour of a niche in the seniors space, with a custom skinned Android-based smartphone. The Stylistic S-01 is designed to be easier for older people to use. Fujitsu is bringing the device to France in partnership with France Telecom/Orange in June but was showing it off at Mobile World Congress, where we went hands on.

Now Fujitsu is not the first to enter the senior mobile space. Other established players include Emporia, which basically makes simplified feature phones, and Doro, which makes a mix of devices (including dabbling in tablet software). Doro was showing off its own Android-based seniors phone at MWC last year so, again, Fujitsu is a follower here too. But late to the party though it is, it has crafted what feels like a solid and well thought through first offering.

The handset has a rubberised coating to add grip and more curves than the sleek, slick high end smartphones du jour so rests nicely on the palm and feels less inclined to take a tumble than the average slab phone. On the front, there’s a clearly labelled home button below the 4 inch touchscreen. The button is slightly convex making it stand out so it’s easy to press. The buttons on the side of the device — power and volume up & down keys on one side, plus a dedicated camera key on the other — are also labelled (albeit with icons). These keys are raised slightly but don’t feel like they stick out enough to press accidentally.

Click to view slideshow.

Fujitsu has made the Stylistic S-01′s capacitive touchscreen deliberately less sensitive to cut back on erroneous key presses for a target group of users which isn’t likely to be as dexterous as the average mobile owner. The screen didn’t feel awkwardly unresponsive during my hands on but on-screen buttons did sometimes need a more deliberate press — which seems like a reassuring feature for the intended user-base.

There are a couple of odd hardware touches. The Micro USB port sits behind a cover which has to be prised off with a fingernail. The cover has likely been included because the phone is dust and waterproof but it does mean that accessing the charging port isn’t as easy as it could be.

The phone is also equipped with an alarm — in case of emergencies. This makes a loud noise to alert people in the vicinity that the owner is in trouble and also dials out pre-chosen contacts. The alarm is located on the back of the device, to the left of the camera lens. The physical switch is rather small and again has to be pushed out with a fingernail or similar. Of course it’s no good having the alarm go off accidentally but in an emergency it could prove a little difficult to activate.

Android but not as you know it

Moving on to the software, this is where the phone really stands out from the Android crowd, thanks to a simplified custom UI that foregrounds key functions, tucks away complexity and does a spot of thoughtful hand-holding — with help buttons and guides and even a phone manual included on the device. The homescreen is divided up into large, clearly labelled icons that decrease in size as you scroll down to reach functions that are likely to be accessed less. The two largest buttons are the call button, and the phonebook (a much more senior-friendly way to describe contacts).

Messages and email also appear on screen at the top of the homescreen, along with three numbered buttons that can be pre-set with specific functions for quick access. Scroll further down and there’s an info widget displaying news updates and weather. Below that, there are a variety of phone functions laid out in a grid of squares — and again clearly labelled. These include Internet, camera, maps, video, gallery, a help forum and a manual. The only button that stands out as slightly obtuse is the one labelled ‘Play Store’ (thanks Google).

Android apps can be downloaded to the phone via the Play Store, or via a ‘download apps’ button. Other preloaded apps are tucked away under ‘More applications’ and ‘Orange services’ — so although the phone has been simplified, the functionality has not been removed entirely. Rather they are cleared out of harm’s way until the user feels confident enough to drill a little deeper.

There are lots of thoughtful little touches in the design, such as the Phonebook app being made to resemble a traditional filofax, and the button called ‘My number’ to help users out who can’t remember their phone number. The gallery also includes a ‘Take a picture’ button, to steer anyone who went into the gallery looking for the camera in the right direction. The back button is also clearly labelled with the word ‘back’ — rather than having a cryptic symbol to confuse people. And the browser has a question mark button at the top which leads to a help page to explain the browsing process for first time mobile web users.

Elsewhere apps are nicely stripped down, simplified and clearly labelled — such as the camera app, which has just a camera button and a flash toggle button, and the dialler app which has two folder-style tabs to show either a dial option, or history (for call log). Time has clearly been well spent by the UI designer figuring out an intelligent way to layer a smartphone for a senior user-base that will probably feel most comfortable taking small steps away from telephones in order to get to know smartphones.

Click to view slideshow.


TechCrunch » android

Fujitsu Finally Enters Europe’s Smartphone Market With A Senior-Focused Android Device With France Telecom, Starting In June

STYLISTIC_S01_front_FR

It was exactly a year ago that news began to surface of Fujitsu’s intention to come to Europe with its Android-based smartphones. Now the Japanese company is finally coming good on those reports: on Tuesday, Fujitsu is launching its first device in Europe, marking its first “extensive foray into the smartphone market outside Japan.”

But it’s not the company’s high-end Arrow Android phones that will be leading the charge. Instead, it is the Stylistic S-01, a senior-focused, Android 4.0 device with big icons, enhanced audio and a de-sensitized touchscreen aimed at elderly users. The device will sell first in France, starting in June and in partnership with France Telecom/Orange. The first devices will be shown at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona next week.

While targeting elderly users first may seem like a strange tactic for a smartphone market debut, it actually makes sense for a number of reasons.

According to WPP’s Kantar Worldpanel, there are already countries in Europe where smartphone penetration has passed the 50% mark (the UK is 61%). France is not quite one of them yet, but it is close, at 46%.

That means that in a world where Samsung and Apple are dominating smartphone sales, competition is getting tight to sell to mass-market, younger demographics and some more specific targeting is needed.

Smartphone penetration among seniors in France is only around 20%, but some 75% of mobile users in the senior age bracket plan to buy a smartphone in the next year, according to one survey. France Telecom tells me that it has more phones in the pipeline for seniors. “We’d like to see what the appetite for this device is but we recognise the senior user segment as a new market for us to target, so we will be considering other devices for these users in the future,” a spokesperson says.

Indeed, Orange is also bucking the ageist trend that assumes smartphone technology is only for young people. “The senior customers within our customer base are just as hungry for smartphone technology and mobile internet services as anyone else,” noted Yves Maitre, SVP of device and mobile multimedia, France Telecom-Orange.

Fujitsu says that it has sold some 20 million phones in its Raku Raku senior phone line since its launch in 2001 in Japan, where it is sold exclusively by NTT Docomo. Fujitsu’s only other foray outside of Japan has been for a trial of smartphones in China.

The Stylistic S-01 has several features that make it more friendly to the older user. Among them, the homepage icons that appear on the four-inch screen have been simplified and cast in a larger typeface to make them easier to see. The touchscreen, meanwhile, has been made less sensitive, with users required to push extra hard, as they would on a keypad, in order to tap through a command or number. While this might be annoying to the average smartphone user, Fujitsu says this reduces the amount of accidental touches that an older person might make on the device.

Other features include a personal security alarm and audio technology that slows down fast talkers, and adjusts the frequency of voice callers relative to a person’s age, and water resistance.

A France Telecom spokesperson says that for now there are no plans announced for further country rollouts, nor has it specified how it will be priced.  It will depend on what Orange France decides to roll into the tariff and what services it ultimately bundles with the device.

But it looks like Fujitsu, at least, has plans for this to be the first stage in a wider international plan.

“As Fujitsu’s first extensive entry into the smartphone market outside Japan, we are delighted that Orange – a company that holds a strong position in the European market – will be offering our phone, which features Fujitsu-exclusive human-centric technologies,” said Nobuo Otani, Corporate SVP, Fujitsu Limited, in a statement. “We are committed to the success of this partnership as we strive to expand our smartphone business overseas, while advancing the promotion of Japanese technology worldwide.”

Full release with more device specs below.

Fujitsu and Orange Partner to Deliver Smartphones to the Rapidly Growing Senior Market in Europe

Intuitive, feature-rich STYLISTIC S01 smartphone to debut June 2013 in France

Tokyo and Paris, February 19, 2013 – Fujitsu Limited and France Telecom-Orange today announced a new partnership to offer mobile phones and services in Europe. The partnership marks Fujitsu’s first extensive foray into the smartphone market outside Japan. The initial offering will be the STYLISTIC S01, a smartphone designed especially for senior users, and will be available through Orange in France in June 2013.

As the senior population in Europe continues to grow rapidly, smartphone usage in this demographic is expected to rise. With the release of the STYLISTIC S01, Fujitsu and Orange plan on offering users in this market segment an innovative smartphone that provides outstanding usability. The STYLISTIC S01 will include services like Orange Cineday (*1) and Orange et Moi (*2), which are unique to Orange. Based around the human-centric technologies that Fujitsu has cultivated for over a decade, the STYLISTIC S01 also offers a variety of original, convenient functions designed to reduce barriers to smartphone adoption by maximizing ease of use.

One of these barriers is conventional touchscreens, which do not offer the tactile sensation of pressing a physical button. The STYLISTIC S01, however, employs a unique screen technology that requires users to apply the same level of pressure to on-screen icons as they would to buttons on a keypad. This helps users avoid inadvertent touches, preventing unintended operations and improving input accuracy. Furthermore, the intuitive graphic user interface features extra-large icons and a simplified layout to ensure straightforward navigation for easier operation. The STYLISTIC S01 is also equipped with a loud personal security alarm that can be used to alert people in the surrounding area in emergency situations.

The handset incorporates audio technology that optimizes the frequency range based on a user’s age, making it easier to hear the voice of the person on the other end of the call. Another user-friendly audio function slows down the speech of callers who speak rapidly without lowering the pitch of their voice or changing the length of the conversation. These and other innovative features are currently in use in the Fujitsu Raku-Raku Phone series for seniors, which has been offered by NTT DOCOMO since 2001 in Japan where it has sold over 20 million units.

“The senior customers within our customer base are just as hungry for smartphone technology and mobile internet services as anyone else. We are thrilled to be working together with Fujitsu to leverage our combined strengths to provide products for an emerging smartphone market segment in Europe,” said Yves Maitre, Senior Vice President of Device & Mobile Multimedia, France Telecom-Orange.

“As Fujitsu’s first extensive entry into the smartphone market outside Japan, we are delighted that Orange – a company that holds a strong position in the European market – will be offering our phone, which features Fujitsu-exclusive human-centric technologies,” said Nobuo Otani, Corporate Senior Vice President, Fujitsu Limited. “We are committed to the success of this partnership as we strive to expand our smartphone business overseas, while advancing the promotion of Japanese technology worldwide.”

The STYLISTIC S01 will be on display at the Fujitsu stand (Hall 5 Stand 5E120) and can also be viewed upon request at the Orange stand (Hall 5 Stand 5H110) during Mobile World Congress 2013, to be held in Barcelona, Spain starting February 25, 2013.

STYLISTIC S01 Product Specifications

· 130 x 64 x 10.9 mm
· 4-inch WVGA (800×480) touchscreen with unique tactile feedback technology
· Camera: back 8.1 MP; front: 0.3 MP
· Connectivity: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/UMTS/HSPA, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, GPS
· Memory: 4 GB + microSD
· OS version: Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0
· Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8255 1.4 GHz
· Battery: 1800 mAh
· Water- and dust-resistant (IPX5/8, IP5X)

Glossary and Notes
1. Orange Cineday
Allows Orange customers to take a friend to see a movie every Tuesday for free.

2. Orange et Moi
A free application enabling Orange customers to understand and manage all their account details directly from their mobile in an efficient and easy manner. Customers can track their consumption, top up their account, take out options, find out about special offers, access Orange help, and also discover all the applications published by Orange with just one click.

TechCrunch » Gadgets