8-Year-Olds Know What's Cool, Give Kiddie Phones The Thumbs Down - InformationWeek

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4/18/2007
11:32 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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8-Year-Olds Know What's Cool, Give Kiddie Phones The Thumbs Down

Last week both Cingular and Verizon Wireless pulled their bare-bones kid phones, the FireFly and Migo, from their respective retail distribution points. The phones targeted kids with basic calling features that kept Mom and Dad happy, but obviously didn't go far enough to tempt the hip kids on the block.

Last week both Cingular and Verizon Wireless pulled their bare-bones kid phones, the FireFly and Migo, from their respective retail distribution points. The phones targeted kids with basic calling features that kept Mom and Dad happy, but obviously didn't go far enough to tempt the hip kids on the block.The idea sort of made sense from a parental point of view. If they wanted their kids to have a phone to call a few select numbers, plus 911, without the ability to ring up major bills calling their best friend for all-night conversations about how funny SpongeBob is, the kid phones were it.

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.

To replace the kid-centric offerings, Verizon is bringing out a basic phone from LG that supports GPS and text messaging (a kid favorite). No word from Cingular on what its plans are.

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