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A Cell Phone for Kids

Boot Camp feature for Friday, November 25, 2005

A cell phone for kids. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Cingular, the country's largest mobile phone carrier, has begun selling the Firefly…a handset designed specifically for kids. Firefly Mobile chief executive Robin Abrams…

"Cingular is going to carry Firefly both in their company owned stores as well as in their re-sellers and agents. And that's big news, because what it says is that Cingular believes in the 8 to 12 space. It says that they believe in that as one of the fastest growing market segments and it says that they're all about families communicating, and that's what Firefly's about."

While there's little doubt that just about all 8 to 12 year olds want cell phones…parents, for good reason, have been reluctant to give in. The Firefly unit is designed to overcome parental concerns. It has just five buttons…and parents are able to control which numbers are programmed in that their kids can call. They can also control the calls the phone can receive. Beyond that…Abrams says the phone overcomes some objections schools have about cell phones…

"The video games are distracting, the text messaging is distracting, the cheating that goes on with text messaging. The cameras get kids into trouble."

Cingular is selling the Firefly for about fifty dollars…with a two year contract and a rebate. Firefly does have competition… educational toy maker LeapFrog has begun selling the TicTalk parent controlled cell phones…designed for children ages 6 and up. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin