Home Telecoms & NBN Alcatel gets into the zone by pre-loading Aussie family safety app on its smartphones

Alcatel gets into the zone by pre-loading Aussie family safety app on its smartphones

All Australian Alcatel smartphones will be pre-loaded with the Australian made, cloud-based family, Internet and device-access protection software Family Zone from now on.

Worried your kids are zoning out to the wrong kind of binaural beats, or are zoning into weird YouTube conspiracy theories? Maybe they're being taken on a ride into the danger zone of decidedly unsavoury people pretending to be celebrities or youngsters like themselves.

Perhaps your children are surfing the net at 2am when they're meant to be asleep, building fortresses in Fortnite when they should instead be building brain cells thanks to a solid eight hours of healthy snoozing per night.

Whatever the case may be, the Wild Wild Web has only become wilder over the past 20 years, and while there have been all manner of protective packages and apps to apply to your devices and home network, a new Aussie solution called Family Zone has proven very successful, and has caught the eye of Alcatel Australia's managing director, Sam Skontos.

Alcatel has announced that Family Zone’s mobile app, dubbed Mobiel Zone, will now "come pre-loaded on all Alcatel devices being sold in Australia moving forward".

This will start in mid-2018 with launch of the Alcatel's new range.

Alcatel's focus as always is on "affordable but highly featured smartphones", with the new range to start at an impressively affordable A$99 for what is dubbed a "highly-spec’d phone", with one key area of Alcatel's business being "parents looking at the perfect first mobile phone for their children".

Indeed, Alcatel is quick to remind us that it has been the No.3 smartphone vendor in the Australia market by volume, and have been for several years now, showing the brand's popularity in Australia.

So, how did Family Zone and Alcatel get together to launch this excellent initiative?

Well, the background behind this news is definitely interesting.

The aforementioned Skontos says that he actually uses this app as part of looking after his own children.

Given that more and more schools are "mandating that kids either have Family Zone installed on their phone (and that of their parents) in order for them to bring a phone to school", this means that if no Family Zone software is installed, the child's smartphone will have to go into the school locker for the day.

As such, Skontos states he is "across his daughter’s surfing habits, length of time, data usage etc and can limit and monitor everything, while the school also has its own conditions".

Now, it's not quite the Remington story (as he didn't buy the company), he nevertheless loved Family Zone so much that he approached Family Zone to put their software on all Alcatel phones sold in Australia, which Skontos naturally notes "demonstrates Alcatel’s ability to really focus on the needs of Australian consumers (in this instance, families) - especially with security, privacy, data usage and time in front of a screen all important areas of concern for many parents".

Skontos added: “My passion around today’s announcement stems from a very personal experience for me, as a father with the opportunity to work with my children on what they can access on their mobile phones, when and for how long.

"Having Family Zone pre-loaded on all Alcatel devices being launched into Australia is an extension of my concerns as a parent, and our desire to help provide more peace of mind to Australian families.”

“There is a lot of excitement around our new range and for good reason, and more than ever before we will be a compelling option for parents who are considering a first mobile phone for their child. To have an opportunity to help our customers address areas around privacy, security, usage and length of screen time through an alliance with an Australian company is particularly fulfilling, and I am looking forward to working together with Family Zone moving forward.”

So, what did Alcatel say to the market about the deal?

Well, the shortened version of the info provided is that Alcatel, which is owned by top 10 global smartphone TCL, is the "number 3 in the [Australian] market by volume", which has been "sustained for the last two years by delivering high quality and affordable, feature-rich mobile devices into the market".

We're told that "such devices have made Alcatel the perfect choice for many Australian parents looking to provide a child with their first mobile phone, and is one reason why this partnership is exciting for both companies".

The explanations continue, stating that:

  • Family Zone has developed a unique and innovative cloud-based ecosystem that enables parents to set internet and device access policies which may be enforced across any device and network.
  • Family Zone is growing rapidly and winning partnerships with major providers of connectivity including schools and globally significant telecommunication companies (“Telcos”).
  • Alcatel is a major global device manufacturer and is continually seeking new opportunities to drive value for their customers, partners and shareholders.
  • This agreement enables Alcatel to offer world leading parental control features to their customers and offers Family Zone an additional distribution network and the ability to deliver exceptional customer experience.
  • The combination of Alcatel’s high performance devices, attractive prices and Family Zone’s simple to use, universal and feature-rich cyber safety solution, offers Telco’s and their customers a never before seen value proposition.

Background

  • Family Zone was "founded on the premise that cyber safety requires user-friendly technology that works wherever children access the internet."
  • Its ecosystem approach "facilitates collaboration among schools, parents, cyber experts, Telco’s, device manufacturers and other stakeholders".
  • Family Zone consists of a range of cloud services and embedded or installed software that interoperate to enable the ecosystem approach to cyber safety.

How the solution works

  • Family Zone’s on-device technology is called Mobile Zone. Mobile Zone runs on many platforms including Android smart devices, iOS, macOS, Windows and Chromebooks.
  • Alcatel devices run a version of Google’s Android platform. The Family Zone technology has already been successfully tested on a number of Alcatel’s android smartphones and tablets.
  • Pursuant to the agreement Alcatel will preload Mobile Zone on target devices at the factory, providing parents with the option to sign up and install Mobile Zone (without any requirement to download) when setting up their child’s device.

Plans include not only installing Mobile Zone, but also:

  • Promoting Family Zone in the device setup wizard;
  • Embedding Family Zone in device settings; and
  • Installing restrictions to protect against tampering.

Alcatel says its devices are distributed directly to customer through retail outlets and also through partnerships with all Australian telcos.

Alcatel and Family Zone will be jointly promoting the devices to these Telcos, offering them not only a feature rich product, but the opportunity to re-sell Family Zone services. This is seen by both partners as a significant value adding opportunity for telcos.

Once parents have signed up for Mobile Zone on their Alcatel device they obtain all of the benefits of the Family Zone ecosystem, including the ability to protect more devices, protect the home and work with their school on cyber safety programs.

While having the Mobile Zone technology preloaded on Alcatel’s smartphones provides an additional distribution channel and makes it easier for parents to ‘adopt’ this technology, the Company is unable to accurately predict the number of customers which will sign up for this service through their Alcatel devices and is therefore currently unable to estimate the revenues that may be generated, nor the financial impact of this agreement.

A holistic approach – create benefits for all

  • Embedding parental controls on a device that is intrinsically linked to a cloud-based and universal cyber safety offering is ‘the solution’ demanded by the parents.

The benefits of this arrangement for all parties are exciting and manifold as outlined below.

For Alcatel

  • Dominant devices in Alcatel’s target market segment do not have world-leading built-in parental controls. The partnership with Family Zone therefore supports Alcatel’s brand and product positioning and need for product differentiation in the competitive mobile devices market.
  • This agreement offers Alcatel a first mover opportunity to target child mobile devices - through solving parental concerns around access.
  • Importantly, it also offers new opportunities for Alcatel to sell devices and value adding services into its Telco partners. It is apparent to both Family Zone and Alcatel that Telcos in Australia and globally are interested and investigating parental controls.

For Family Zone

  • This is Family Zone’s first agreement with a manufacturer of end-user devices. It is an important symbol and a significant endorsement of Family Zone’s eco-system strategy.
  • At a practical level, this agreement offers Family Zone access to a large distribution channel. In Australia, Alcatel are a significant player and have deep relationships with Australian Telcos.
  • This partnership adds further weight to Alcatel's Telco proposition.

For parents

  • Research into parental attitudes continually finds high levels of anxiety and concern around their children’s use of technology. However adoption of parental controls is low.
  • The “adoption challenge” is in large part due to the complexity of taking action for parents. This alliance with Alcatel is directly aimed at customer experience.
  • Through this alliance, and use of Family Zone enabled Alcatel devices, parents will get stunning devices, affordability and the ability to effortlessly take effective control of their kid’s devices

For telcos

  • Driven by regulatory pressure or a drive for top and bottom-line outcomes Telcos globally offer a mixed response to the cyber safety needs of the community.
  • Telcos have a range of challenges when stepping into parental controls. There are complex public relations, brand and regulatory issues and of course often significant network investment.
  • The alliance between Alcatel and Family Zone changes the game completely. Telcos can now rely on Family Zone technology embedded in the device. Investment disappears and benefits appear.

Through the alliance of Alcatel and Family Zone, telcos will be able to:

  • Reinforce their commitment to ‘family values’;
  • Respond to regulatory pressure;
  • Retail products directly at the massive and growing segment of children’s mobility;
  • Add top-line revenue through value added revenue streams; and
  • Add to the bottom line through improved customer experience and retention.

Family Zone managing director Tim Levy said:

“In the past 18 months we’ve achieved a lot of success and a lot of ‘firsts’, our alliance with Alcatel is however one of our proudest. Family Zone’s vision is for our technology to be embedded on every device and network that our kids use. We are in schools across the world and have agreements with Telcos and access point manufacturers globally.

"Our agreement with Alcatel however completes the picture with a manufacturer of mobile devices joining the ecosystem. We are proud that we can now demonstrate the fullness of our vision.”

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

 

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