German operator Deutsche Telekom said that it has introduced a smartwatch for kids, called Xplora Go, in combination with its Smart Connect S tariff.
New and existing customers will pay €4.95 (US $5.48) a month for the smartwatch in combination with the plan, with a minimum contract period of 12 months. After one year, customers pay a one-off fee of €99.95 (US $110.60) to purchase the device.
With Xplora Go, the child can call or send texts to up to 10 numbers pre-set by his or her parents but cannot surf the internet. Only selected numbers can call the child’s phone. Parents can monitor their child’s location in real time via GPS in the Xplora Go Kids Smartwatch app, and they may also set safe areas. If the child leaves these areas, the parents automatically receive a message. There is also an SOS button the child can use to make emergency calls.
As the age of first involvement with mobile devices gets lower and lower, parents are looking for ways to allow their children into the mobile ecosystem that preserve safety and parental control as much as possible. Device and software manufacturers are complying by designing systems to meet these needs. Now that children are interested in smartwatches as well as phones, the Xplora series is being marketed to them.
For mobile operators, it is very good customer relations to be proactive about offering child-oriented mobile devices to families at prices that make them affordable. In this case, DT has amortized the charge into very small monthly payments, and the fact that the balloon payment is at the end of the term will likely make the offer more palatable than if it came at the beginning.
As far as the features of the device are concerned, they are reduced to the bare essentials for connectivity and safety. Parents are likely to be glad that web surfing is not an option, due to its potential for misuse; calling and texting, on the other hand are essential to staying in touch as well as to staying safe in an emergency. The location-tracking feature, based on a simple GPS functionality, adds a layer of comfort, as does the ability to define the perimeters of a safe zone. None of these features is unique to Deutsche Telekom’s offering—they come with the smartwatch—but making the device part of the operator’s lineup is good customer service and will boost DT’s image in the minds of customers. We might also point out that a smartwatch is arguably a better first mobile device than a smartphone, in that it is much less easy for a child to lose.