Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo (NYSE:DCM) announced today that it will soon be accepting preorders for a new model of smartphone that specifically targets the pre-teen demographic. The Android 4.0 device will we priced at a discounted rate of 2,980 yen per month (about $34) as part of an introductory offer.
Dubbed as a ‘Smartphone for Juniors,’ the handset is made by Sharp and is set to go on sale in early February. It lets parents impose certain restrictions like maximum call time or restricted calling periods, and it includes content and applications tailored specifically for pre-teens 1. The phone is also water-resistant, and the smaller form factor is made to fit in children’s hands. It has a 1.5 GHz processor, a 12.1 megapixel camera, and is available in three colors: blue, pink, and white.
It’s interesting to see smartphones specifically tailored to certain segments of the Japanese population in this way. (Maybe this is what you have to do when you don’t have the iPhone?) Docomo also sells a sort of beginner smartphone in its Rakuraku model. That handset aspires to be easy to operate, especially for elderly users who might be new to smartphones and their various functions.
So perhaps it’s a good idea to Docomo to offer its ‘Smartphone for Juniors’ since any kids carrying a Rakuraku smartphone would probably run the risk of being teased for having a ‘grandma’ phone!
Last year Docomo also released “For Girls” handsets as well, marked by an uber-cute pink design with special services targeting young women.
On a personal note, I’m not sure that I could get behind handing my kid a such a crippled device. That wouldn’t be very nice. Although I assume parents can allow kids to use and explore all the functions if they choose.