Born in the early-middle of the Baby Boomer generation (1951), I’m one of the folks O’Reilly Radar’s Mark Sigall is talking about in a recent essay contending that an Apple assault on the tablet computer market is “inevitable,” since such a device would be so symbiotic for we Boomers, who, now aged 53-73, constitute a whopping 70M+ demographic cohort in the U.S.
Aging Baby Boomers
How so? For the same reasons that aging Boomers are unlikely to embrace the palm-sized iPhone en masse, Sigall suggests, observing that a bookish-sized tablet device — call it the Boomer Tablet — would be tailor-made for home Wi-Fi setups, obviating mobile access costs associated with the iPhone, which he says constitute a significant barrier for a generation programmed to keep mobile bills within a tight spending range. Good point. We Boomers missed the Great Depression, but enough of its residual trauma rubbed off on us in our formative years from our parents and grandparents that we’re inclined to balk and bridle at the extortionate highway robbery service fees cell and wireless Internet providers impose on smartphone users, leaving some of us bemused at younger generations’ seemingly passive willingness to cough up whatever is charged without very vigorous price resistance.
Diminished Motor Skills & Visual Acuity
Sigall says tablets are a shoo-in for Apple because a larger form-factor device can provide Boomers with a bigger viewing screen and a more forgiving keyboard to ease input. The generously sized multitouch input methods and shortcuts help us Boomers work around our diminishing motor skills and fading visual acuity, which make the concept of plugging away on tiny keys and peering into camera viewfinder-sized screens on mobile devices, like the iPhone and iPod touch, unappealing.
Indeed, I think a substantial factor in of the appeal of PC “netbooks,” compared with smartphones, is that while they’re still small and underpowered, they beat the whiz out of handheld devices for computer-type tasking. They actually have real keyboards that one can type on conventionally without the angularities of touchscreens that you have to squint at or view peering over your eyeglasses.
Decent-sized Displays and Real Keyboards
Pushing 58, I find my motor skills hanging in fairly well, albeit with more aches and pains than there used to be. My beef with the iPhone’s keyboard is not so much its size as it is me having stubbornly resisted getting bifocals for more than half a decade since my optometrist first recommended them. I find the compromises of surfing the web, watching movies and videos, or indeed doing much other than scrolling through menus on a tiny iPhone or iPod display distinctly off-putting. While I’m not personally smitten with the idea of tablet computers, a decent-sized display and real keyboard would make them much more attractive as Internet devices than pygmy-sized smartphones.
So, it makes sense to me. How about you? Especially if you’re a Boomer, would a tablet computer appeal more than a smartphone or iPod touch?