My dad recently began following me on Twitter. Of all of my followers (modest number but proud of all the new connections), this one is most exciting to me. I hope to have lots of baby boomers out there following me. Because I have a theory. For years, we have said that the Gen Y or Millenials should drive how we design applications and create experiences using technology. Thus, tech companies create the most complex apps and tools, adapting to the ever-changing whims of a rather fickle population. I would ask whether instead we should try designing for grandparents. “But they barely use technology? Gram still uses email for goodness sake!!” So why would we design for grandparents?
Look at the iPhone and iPad. When you compare it to Blackberry devices, Androids, and other devices it does not actually have as many options, is locked down, heavily restricts applications to Apple approved ones, and until recently did next to nothing in the cloud. Yet, look at it’s success.
My dad has over the years purchased dozens of phones, switch providers at least once every other year since I was 15, and tried Palms, BlackBerry devices, private label PDAs, and more. The most recent BlackBerry he purchased was the well-hyped Torch, RIM’s solution for the boredom resulting from most of their devices. He says that he bought BlackBerry devices “because they seemed to be the professional choice.” However, what frustrated him is they all operated in a different, more confusing way and still did not excite him. After several weeks of trying to learn the Torch, Dad sold it (on Craig’s list no less) and purchased an iPhone 4. Within hours, he said, he was proficient with the iPhone.
“Everything was intuitive, the apps were a delight and installed easily, and I understand the iPhone hysteria. I have used the droids, but they are merely poor copies of the iPhone, likewise the Android pads. Although Android technology is catching up, it still is ‘catching’ up, while Apples continues to evolve.”
Now, how is that for an endorsement. Perhaps Apple’s new ads should feature retirees and grandparents standing next to the PC guy instead of the cool young guy. Apple is looking to expand their market through pay-as-you go phones with no contracts. I think perhaps they should look to a different market segment, retiring baby boomers that can use their iPhones to skype (or Facebook videochat) with their grandkids, call the doctor, track their meds, etc. Meanwhile, perhaps Microsoft, Google, and others should try designing with these endusers in mind. I’m willing to bet that you design it right for them, and you’ll get the rest just fine.
Another interesting note from my Dad (sorry Microsoft):
“The Windows phones are an answer to a problem that didn’t really exist. Now you can buy a premium phone that will freeze just like your windows computer will. What a joy!”
Now that is a classic quote!
Thanks for your connection.
Side Note: My dad is a hip, young, technically proficient and suave gentlemen (who reads my blogs) and certainly NOT an old man!