The marketing that I’m now seeing for Relay seems REALLY misleading to me. “Screenfree Smartphone for Kids” or “Screenless Phone”. This isn’t a smartphone, screen free or not. It isn’t even a phone phone. First, phone implies being able to call other phones. It can’t. Second smartphone implies 3rd party apps, nope again. I expect better from Republic. You’ve got a category defining device. Own that, don’t try to stick it in to an existing category that it doesn’t fit in (and sets expectations it can’t meet).
Thank you for your feedback - it’s very valuable. The screen-free smartphone positioning is not one taken lightly and we feel is an accurate and reflective categorization of our product, which will help people quickly and easily understand what it is and what purpose it serves.
Regarding communication, Relay already has and will continue gaining new capabilities that expand it’s network, allowing users to connect and talk in ways similar to a phone. Your comment about apps is one of the areas in which we feel most strongly that the comparison resonates. Our Channels are apps for your Relay - and the Channel Store is expanding and will continue to expand similar to how the app stores did/do.
Just because I have nothing better to do, I showed the current branding to 3 different families I’ve been talking to about Relay. So far, including me, the positioning is 0 for 4. Not one person thinks it is a “screen-free smartphone”. 2 of 3 asked me, “oh, it can call phone numbers now”?
We all agreed “Next Gen Walkie Talkie”, “New Communicator Device”, “Communicator”, “Cellular Walkie Talkie” or quite literally almost anything else would be more accurate, actually say what the product is and not be confusing or inaccurate.
Small sample size, but did Relay run any panels to see if consumers, and not those inside the product development, resonated at all with the branding?
I do agree that the phrase screen free phone makes me think more of a device that by definition would have the functionality of a phone without the screen. So if I didn’t know what I know and just went by the advertising I would presume it would be a fully operable phone that would be operated by voice command.
Knowing that these devices are cellular walkie talkies with expanded capabilities I am sure there would be a better marketing term to use to explain what these devices do and the benefit it will bring the user.
Which is why I used the term phone replacement. We are in agreement that Relay is not a phone and ought not to be marketed that way.
Snark aside, while Relays indeed work much like walkie talkies, I’m not convinced marketing them as walkie talkie replacements will resonate with enough folks to establish a market.
And, what would be wrong with future channels making Relays more like Amazon’s Echos or Google’s Home. Both of those devices can make phone calls to regular numbers. And, Echos receive calls albeit with a needed optional device. Carefully controlled (parents could limit what numbers could be called for example), I think there’s potential.
I wasn’t being sarcastic. I was serious. I agree, this is the most logical development path I can think of and in my mind further validates the idea that this isn’t a “phone replacement” as an Echo or Home would never be marketed that way.
I think this bothers me so much because the ONE THING I always thought I could count on with Republic was honesty/integrity and I feel like I’m shopping for a used car and guy is trying to convince me that the moped he has out front of the store is exactly that.
I hope that rather than an outright lie this is just premature. Maybe the reason for the recent price change was to help cover the monthly taxes that come with offering connection to the PSTN and the functionality is coming.
I agree with you, louisdi. When I talk about Relay to people who have not heard of it, I tell them it’s like a walkie talkie but it works off of cellular towers. It’s great because there is only one button to push to get to a family member. That makes it so much easier, especially in the colder months which require gloves. It’s hard to work a phone when you’re wearing gloves. Relay is definitely not a phone.
Thanks to all who shared their perspective here- I will echo @Barbara_Laurie and say that this is really helpful and does not fall on deaf ears- our staff reads these threads and I will also make sure this gets in front of the appropriate team(s).
If I can offer some more perspective, as an employee, Relay member, and more specifically, as someone who engages with fellow Relay members for support and pre-sales inquiries:
We have absolutely no intention to deceive with our marketing messaging- I think all of this is boiling down to our intention to better explain what Relay is, and positioning it in the market appropriately. Part of our goal is to offer Relay as an option when parents are faced with the decision to get their child a smartphone, or a tracker, or whatever else may be worth considering.
I can say as someone who fielded a lot of questions when we launched just 6 months ago, the issue with describing Relay as a walkie-talkie was folks primarily latched on to “walkie-talkie”, and then asked: “so what’s the range?”. This is by no means the only logic behind the current messaging, but I have seen greater successes explaining and framing Relay as similar to a smartphone (which is familiar and well understood as a more complex device), than a walkie-talkie (which is less familar to modern kids/parents, and has only one or two basic functions).
This thread has certainly opened my eyes more about how our messaging is received, and it may be that as we continue to evolve (just as we evolved away from calling Relay a walkie-talkie), we’ll find a better way to describe Relay in a simple, broadly-understood fashion.
I’d ask first, that you all keep this feedback coming (always respecting others’ opinions and maintaining the helpful & friendly tone we have here in The Neighborhood), and second, please stick with us as we continue to evolve this product vision and do our best to bring Relay to folks who we think can really benefit from it.
@louisdi as I read your response and looked over the marketing image, I took some time to think about it. I must admit I have had a hard time figuring out the best way to be as uncomplicated as possible. To start off with the “complicated part” is the bolded statement in the image, I would agree that this is my “kids first phone” as my 7 year old uses the device so it contacts exactly who she needs to “call”. I do appreciate @Andi_B response to this thread. I can understan the inquiry about the “walkie talkie” distance as we have seen that come up a few times in a few threads.
I do feel that this is a great crossover between a phone and a walkie talkie but obviously not both.
Honestly, with the new functionality released today, with the smart voice assistant hopefully coming soon, and other features as well, the Relay is more of its own thing, different than a phone. You’re (slowly) bringing a product to market that has no competition and could benefit from being marketed that way.
As a precedent, Apple has done this very well in the past through simple educational videos about their devices, teaching through simple interactions in their commercials. Your first video that you released this time last year was genius for building excitement. Find more kids who are good on video and have them demonstrate how to use the features through natural friend interactions.
As with many new inventions it is hard to describe it in terms of existing products.
The title of relaygo.com says “A screen-free kid phone alternative that’s fun & simple.” I think “phone alternative” and “smartphone alternative” are both good descriptions. “Screen-free smartphone” might lead to some confusion from people who expect it would therefore handle phone calls and emails. I think “4G walkie-talkie” is a reasonable description of the relay channel, but it downplays the features of the relay as a whole.
As far as whether a relay should be able to take incoming calls and make outgoing calls, I don’t see a real need for that. For me one of the most irritating things about having a regular phone is the frequency of spam calls, and I wouldn’t want my kids exposed to that nuisance.
In an emergency the child can call their parent for help and the parent can call 911 while tracking the child’s location using the Relay app. A parent is also less likely to get a dismissive response from a dispatcher than a child, particularly a non-white sounding child (sadly).
Since it’s an audio communication device with a SIM card that you have to pay for every month, I think calling it a “kid’s phone” is fine.