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Tweens Are The New Wireless Growth Market; They Want Grown-Up Phones, Not Kiddieware

According to a new report from researcher iGR, tweens, or those between 5 and 9 years old, are the newest growth segment for wireless. Is the market really that saturated?
According to a new report from researcher iGR, tweens, or those between 5 and 9 years old, are the newest growth segment for wireless. Is the market really that saturated?Well, in established markets like the United States and Europe, yes it is. The iGR study claims that 50% to 70% of 12- to 14-year-olds have their own cell phones, and a significant number of 5- to 9-year-olds have their own mobile phones, too.

That means for wireless companies tweens are now where it's at.

"This study shows that although there are still significant opportunities with the tween and teen segments, the target age groups are getting younger and younger," said Iain Gillott, president of iGR, in a statement. "And while the children might have opinions about what they want and how they will use a cell phone, their parents still make the purchase decision and -- more importantly -- pay for the service and device."

While parents are paying for the phones and service, tweens still have specific expectations about what they want and they can influence their parents' purchasing decisions.

According to the report, kids shy away from cell phones that look like they're designed specifically for children. This finding echoes a recent post from my fellow blogger, Eric Zeman:


Cingular and Verizon each offered a phone with no keypad, a tiny display, and, in the case of the Migo, ears. Yes, ears. Or at least ear-like nubs on top of the phone. Is this a toy or a communication device?

My sister-in-law picked up one of them, I forget which, for my then 9-year-old nephew about a year ago. He hated it. All his friends made fun of him. He was so embarrassed by its uncoolness he refused to carry it around, negating the entire purpose and vexing his mother.

If his reaction was typical, their failure in the market comes as no surprise. My sister-in-law was eventually forced to upgrade to a regular clamshell phone that looked more adult and offered a regular keypad. I wonder how often this scenario was carried out across the country.

Well, it looks like today's tweens want grown-up phones. What do you think? How many of you have given a cell phone to your 5- to 9-year-old children? And if so, did you give them a grown-up phone or one with a child-centric design?