Selling Obsolescence: The Jitterbug Cellphone

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I love these ads for the Jitterbug, like this one from the back cover of the NYT Book Review. They are pitched at aging boomers who find modern cellphones too complicated, hard to see and confusing to use.

Though it’s difficult to make out in the photo, the Jitterbug is nothing more than a Samsung flip phone. It’s the kind of phone that wireless carriers used to give you for free when you signed a two-year contract—like, about 10 years ago.

Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any product whose main selling point is that it is LESS capable than the competition. 

I love the headline—who are all these poor older folks tethered to phones they hate?

Also great are the potential objections used as bullet points in the copy: “I tried my sister’s cellphone… I couldn’t hear it.”

You can just hear the naggy, whiny tone of voice in these statements: “I had to get my son to program it.” “I’ll be paying for minutes I’ll never use!”

Not that these aren’t valid concerns for anyone to have, but reading the fine print, you could certainly argue that Jitterbug customers are paying more for less.

Fascinating business model.