GreatCall switches to Lively

GreatCall, the brand that was started by cell phone industry pioneer Arlene Harris more than 15 years ago, has rebranded to Lively.

The brand focused on the aging population and was often seen in advertisements with the Jitterbug phone. Best Buy Co. bought San Diego, California-based GreatCall in 2018 for $800 million in cash.

GreatCall, an MVNO using Verizon’s network, had more than 900,000 subscribers at the time of the sale, with plans to maintain its San Diego headquarters, as well as its Care Centers in Carlsbad, California, and Reno, Nevada. David Inns, who was GreatCall's CEO, currently is Best Buy Health’s president of active aging. 

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A spokesperson wasn’t immediately available to discuss the name change, but the brand’s website, Twitter feed and advertisements make it loud and clear: GreatCall has changed its name to Lively. The name change was referenced in a May 20 press release about a new Lively Smart phone for older adults. BestMVNO chronicled the change earlier this week.

Wave7 Research also reported on the new branding at four brick-and-mortar Best Buy stores they checked, with signage displaying the Lively moniker.

“The question to me is why they’ve done this,” said Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research. “They haven’t articulated a reason for the branding change.”

Lively isn’t the only brand targeting the elderly. Consumer Cellular, a Portland, Oregon-based MVNO that was sold to private equity firm GTCR last year, also targets an older demographic, offering special discounts to AARP members.

But the two MVNOs appear to be going after different segments of that demographic. Consumer Cellular shows a lot of active seniors in its marketing materials whereas GreatCall appears to target the sons and daughters of seniors using the service, Moore said. “I would say that Consumer Cellular targets senior citizens and GreatCall targets senior senior citizens.”

Lively is more than just a phone, he noted. An Urgent Response button provides connections to trained agents who can help in emergencies. An Urgent Care service connects them to a registered nurse or doctor without an appointment and Lively Link is an app for friends and family to stay informed about their loved one’s health and safety.

Harris founded GreatCall and worked with Samsung on the Jitterbug phone, which was designed to appeal to less tech-savvy seniors who just wanted an easy-to-use phone. Named by Fierce in 2008 as one of the top wireless innovators of all time, she started several wireless ventures during her career, including Cellular Business Systems with husband Marty Cooper. Harris is one of the founders of the Wireless History Foundation.