23 October 2012

The Future Of Consumer Doodad Technology

I’m stepping outside of my pundit-zone to babble about the future of  consumer doodad technology. 

What got me going:

It's Stupid and Insulting to Pitch 'Baby Boomers' As Tech Novices
Larry Magid, Contributor
http://images.forbes.com/media/assets/header_baked/forbes_logo_main.gif… I was rather amused and a bit insulted when I got an email today from a PR person, offering  a”great idea for baby boomer and senior first time computer buyers looking to be a little bit more tech savvy.”

What an insult. If anything, it’s younger users who are already accustomed to easy-t0-use touch screen devices like the iPad that don’t ever require you to know how to use a mouse.

Ripping into flack confetti.  I’ve done that already so let’s skip it.

Tech genius kids.  I’ve done that already so let’s skip it...or, here’s a bit of it (July, 2007):

… On NPR recently there was a report about students who were given laptops instead of textbooks. While these kids certainly knew how to download music, hang out at Facebook, and play video games – they had real problems opening up and using a word processing program. Many had no idea how to save a document. And when they did save it, they couldn’t find it again to open and work on it – or figure out how to print it.

There’s also good news.

Back to the tech gizmos.  Getting our bearings:

01 May 2010
… With the exception of the workplace, smartphones (along with iPads and Kindles or something like them) might just make desktops and laptops and the web as we know it obsolete.

06 April 2010
The Obligatory iPad Post
I’ll wait for the model that won’t shatter when you drop it and can be rolled up to swat flies.

Everybody is talking about mobile … but what’s mobile?  Is a laptop mobile?  What if you have a tablet, and after carrying it around for awhile mostly to be really cool, you now leave it at home and use it there.  Is it still mobile?

I blabbed about this a year ago:

29 November 2011
Magazines Pull Back on Tablet Bells and Whistles
… The business world is too hung up on the operating systems and branding of smartphones and tablets, that within the next five years there will be all sorts of smartphones and tablets in all shapes and sizes, all with different functions and capabilities.

At first, folks carried around their iPads as status symbols.  Now, no one cares – so they’re left at home.  Tablets will become much bigger, lighter, and will be on your coffee table.

My point: You should stop thinking about the next big thingamabob and whose will be best.  In five or ten years there will be all sorts of thingamabobs for just about everything.  You’ll have two or three or ten thingamabobs.  Tablets/Smartphones will be big, small, thin, simple, complex, active, passive, out the door in your purse or pocket, lost in your couch cushions. 

Sure, I’m as insulted as Mr. Magid is.  There will always be a need for simple technology – but not in all cases and not based on the age of the user.  Some technology I want simple, some I want complex.  I can handle either.  So can most people.  But if you want complex only or simple only, no problem.

My comment posted to the Forbes’ piece:

Good points. I’ve been screaming about this for years in a book, numerous articles, my blog, and speaking/consulting gigs around the world.

The only issue is universal design and making technology easier for Boomers when it comes to font/graphic size, color contrasts, and tactile design. An ergonomic handle on a spatula is not ‘dumbing down’.

And some people are eschewing their thingamabobs for big chunks of the day.  I even know a few kids who are sick of it all,  in tech rebellion (except for smartphones), aren’t even futzing with Facebook or diddling with video games. For some misguided reason, they’re avoiding the norms and wondering if there might be more to life. 

That sounds a bit like another generation that came of age in the 1960s.