GreatCall is introducing a new Samsung Jitterbug phone, appropriately tagged the J phone, along with a store that sells services.
The company isn’t calling it an application store because “we don’t just sell applications,” says Jitterbug CEO David Inns. “When we do something, it’s a complete service.”
The new J phone, which was available in stores starting May 31, is tied to new service features that, as before, can be turned on and off depending on the user’s preferences. For example, the company has rewritten the instructions on how to pair Bluetooth with a headset – if the user so chooses to turn on the Bluetooth function. A new text messaging feature includes abut 20 pre-set responses that people can tap instead of writing out a long message every time.
The new phone also is a little slimmer and sleeker than the previous model, Inns says, but “we’ve kept all the great features,” like noise reduction in the earpiece and larger buttons. The phone sports words on the screen instead of indecipherable icons that don’t always immediately signal what they mean, he adds.
There’s a ringtone function, so that users with sensitive hearing can tune it for low-range or high-range hearing loss. The handset also is capable of over-the-air application updating thanks to technology from Qualcomm. Jitterbug has been working with Samsung on the new CDMA phone for a little over two years.
The price of the handset is about $149, with no contract required. Service plans range from $14.99 to $79.99.
The company started out targeting the older demographic, but the new phone includes more features for those in the 55+ age range who want to do more than the rare phone call. “We’re more about lifestyle than we are about age,” Inns says.
That lifestyle is one geared more toward health and wellness than catching the latest video craze on YouTube.
Jitterbug’s aim is similar to some other folks in the San Diego community, like the model Dr. Eric Topol outlined at the spring CTIA show, where patients are more in charge of their health, and treatments are more closely aligned with their personal situations rather than a broad cross section of the population.
Jitterbug subscribers can tap into a diabetes management system and enter their readings. Over time, the company would like to link the readings to a personal health record, where the patient could print off his or her personal report and hand that to a doctor in a medical office, thereby affecting future treatment.
Of course, the companies don’t anticipate any recalls like the one associated with earlier Samsung models that failed to connect to 911 in no-service areas. Inns says the company wanted to go the extra mile to make sure no one had a faulty phone, but the 911 connection problems were limited to remote rural areas where the risk was of a problem was low.