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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 09:47 GMT 10:47 UK
A back-to-basics mobile launched
Richard and Judy
Richard and Judy have endorsed the new phone
Vodafone is launching a back-to-basics mobile phone in response to customer demand for simplicity.

Vodafone Simply will be available in two handsets offering just voice and text services.

Both phones have a large screen with legible text and symbols, and three dedicated buttons for direct access to the main screen, contacts and messages.

The pared down phones represents a backlash against the drive to create more and more advanced services.

The Vodafone Simply Sagem VS1 is a curvy, silver handset while the VS2 is straight and black.

A pre-paid handset will cost 80 while people opting for a monthly price plan will get the handset free.

Richard and Judy

Vodafone Simply Sagem VS1
One version of the phone is silver and curvy

"We have many customers who want the latest mobile phone with all the advanced services from full track music downloads to video calling and mobile TV," said Peter Bamford, chief marketing officer at Vodafone.

"We also have customers who just want to make and receive call and text messages on their mobile phone," he said.

This sentiment was echoed by two celebrity backers, chat show hosts Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.

"I think there are a lot of people like me out there who feel that we have been busy doing other things and steadily technology has almost escaped us," said Ms Finnigan.

"This is the perfect solution for people like me who simply want to make calls and send the odd text message," she said.

Older users

The need for a simplified handset, especially for older people, is borne out by a survey conducted by consultancy firm Cap Gemini last year.

It found that there was a huge mismatch between what mobile operators wanted to provide for customers and what they actually wanted.

Vodafone Sagem VS2
The other handset is straight and black

"Simplicity was a big factor on consumers' agendas but only a quarter of operators considered it important," said Jawad Shaikh, head of the telecom and media lab at Cap Gemini.

The desire for an uncomplicated phone was greater as the age of users increased, its survey found.

Eighty percent of the over-55s craved a simpler handset whereas youngsters wanted all the bells and whistles on their phones.

Even on a more "dumbed-down" phone, there could still be a place for specifically targeted services to be added at a later date, said Mr Shaikh.

"For instance older people showed interest in health monitoring services. Perhaps a dedicated button for emergency services could be added at some point," he said.

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