Technology for the “Seasoned” Set

Homer's Dad
There’s a huge focus on how young people are using technology given the up and coming generation will have a huge impact on what products and services are launched and how they are used. But what about older people; folks in the 50+ or 60+ that want to use technology but want it to be user-friendly? While it’s far from a wave or trend, there are growing signs some high-tech companies have realized there’s a huge market to be tapped by taking a different approach.

A good example is a new search engine called – a terrible name, by the way – that is focused on providing older Internet users with results that are relevant to older Web users. Cranky, started by Jeff Taylor, generates its results by finding the 5,000 most popular Web sites among 500,000 Internet users who are 45 years old or older. (More details on the company can be found in Paul Lamonica’s story on Cranky has a clean, Google-like look and feel, and only generates four results per page, which, in most cases, is more than enough.

Another high-tech player going after the senior citizen set is Jitterbug, which makes a cell phone with large buttons, a big screen and a loud ringtone.

From personal experience in dealing with my parents, there are huge opportunities for high-tech companies interested in selling to older consumers who want no-frills technology that just works and works well. Whether it’s search engines, wireless devices, PCs, DVD players or digital cameras, older consumers with lots of disposable income are hungry for user-friendly technology.

Another Look at the iPhone

The Iphone
As if the world really needs even more coverage of the iPhone (the frenzy within the blogosphere yesterday, including my “contribution” was fascinating to watch), it is a good exercise to take a sober day-after look at Steve Jobs’ latest “gift” to the world. Jupiter’s Michael Gartenberg leads off with a post looking at some the iPhone’s shortcomings (yes Virginia, the iPhone is not everything to all people), including the fact it’s a closed environment. Mapping the Web makes some excellent points about the extreme level of enthusiasm for the iPhone, highlighted by this sweet quote; “Yes, it is sexy as hell, but I’d still take Jessica Alba any day.”
Don’t get me wrong, I think the iPhone is super-cool, albeit somewhat expensive for the regular guy on the street. That said, I don’t think it’s the Blackberry-killer because the two devices will play in different markets. The iPhone’s launch and expected success could, however, cause Research in Motion to either temper its enthusiasm for the pro-sumer market where the Pearl has made a huge impact, and/or prompt it to strengthen its position in the enterprise market where it has been actively getting third-party applications into the Blackberry mix.
Merrill Lynch analyst Vivek Ayra believes the sell-off of RIM yesterday is over done because the he sees the iPhone as being better for multimedia, and RIM better for messaging”. “In our view there are two distinct segments in the smartphone market: multimedia and messaging. The iPhone has a strong multimedia suite that will appeal to consumers, but we believe RIM’s Blackberry smartphones with hardware keyboards have superior messaging (secure email) features targeted at prosumers and enterprises.”
Update: Tom Keating has a good post on how Apple managed to keep the iPhone under wraps until Steve Jobs walked on the stage at MacWorld. For that matter, I’ve always been amazed that large deals are kept secret until they’re actually announced.

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I Wanna an iPhone

All those Blackberry-killer wannabes can now step aside and watch Apple’s new iPhone take firm hold of the crown. All I’ve read so far are some effusive news reports and blog posts but if the iPhone lives up to expectations, we’re talking about a device that could easily match the iPod’s success. From all accounts the iPhone sounds ultra-cool with a 3.5″ screen, a two megapixel camera, an MP3 player, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, rich e-mail, a Web browser and a touch screen interface. Of course, you’ll have to cough up $599 for the pleasure of owning an 8GB iPhone or $499 for a 4GB model (As part of a two-year contract with Cingular) but I doubt price will deter many people.
As someone with a MacBook, iPod, Palm and Blackberry, I’d jump at the chance to use an all-in-one-device that combines Apple’s features strength industrial design. Goodbye Motorola Q, goodbye Treo, goodbye HP iPaq; it’s been nice knowing you. Now, how long do you think it will take Research in Motion to beef us the Pearl with a real Web browser and a better MP3 player.
For all the details from Steve Jobs’ keynote at Macworld, check out the Unofficial Apple Weblog, as well as Engadget. One more thought, if you were a high-tech reporter, where would you rather be: CES or Macworld?
Update: Investors are clearly enthused about Apple given the stock jumped $7.26 to $92.72 today. Any guesses on how long it takes Apple to hit $100? How about tomorrow?…:)

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