Phone calls, text messages and camera. These are the functions phone users resort to most often, according to usage studies.
However, modern touch screen phones offer an extensive menu of options to help users get the most out of their mobile devices. The architectural complexity of many operating systems coupled with the forest of optional applications are raising the threshold for some users to acquire – and use – smartphones.
“Many people dream of having a stylish smartphone with a high quality camera, but they often think they are too difficult to use,” said DNA’s head of consumer business Pekka Väisänen.
A new Oulu-based startup staffed by former Nokia employees has seized the opportunity to exploit a potential niche market for easy-to-use smartphones. The company – Simplofon – has created an application by the same name that simplifies the smartphone start screen, and provides users with a slightly larger font in its displays. It allows users to easily read news and weather forecasts as well as to use other widely used basic functions.
“We initially intended to target seniors with this application, but as we continued the project, we discovered that it might also be useful for younger users. The Simplofon target group is the over-35 year old age group. We are also developing a version for children that would have functions like limiting online usage,” said Simplofon chief executive Jari Taajaranta.
Available first for Android phones
Initially, the new phone software will only be available for phones using versions 2.2 and 2.3 of Samsung’s Android operating system, however support is in the works for newer Android versions.
“We chose to work with Android first, because it is used in the majority of smartphones currently being sold. In addition, the development environment is free. We also chose Samsung because it is the most popular brand,” Taajaranta explained.
Simplofon also plans to explore the possibility of creating versions of its software for the Meego operating system revived by another Nokia-spawned startup, Jolla, as well as for the Windows Phone platform used in Nokia’s new Lumia line. There currently aren’t any plans to work with Apple’s iPhone.
Simplofon has partnered with teleoperator DNA to develop the application, a collaboration born out of practicality, Taajaranta said.
“DNA already has a distribution channel, making it easier for customers to purchase the product. The target group would not necessarily find the application from the app stores provided by mobile phone manufacturers,” he noted.
They are also making it as easy as possible for customers to choose an alternative user interface.
“The customer will have the opportunity to buy the application when he’s phone shopping. If he wants it, it will be installed on the phone’s memory card. The price is around 30 euros,” DNA’s Väisänen said.
Even after installation the phone user will still have the option of choosing to use the original Android operating system, or switching to the more user-friendly Simplofon interface.
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