Post CES reflection on role of technology and Alzheimer's.
Boston, mid-May, 2016
Don't get me wrong -- I love my BlackBerry. Really for no reason except that it fairly reliably buzzes wherever I am so that I can read e-mails, 80% of which are basically junk. Which makes me a true junkie, I guess. Otherwise, my PC is vastly preferable -- with its big screen, connected to the fiber that I am lucky enough to have connected to my house. My cheap cell phone is a (slightly) better phone and doesn't make me feel like I am talking on a calculator.
Smart phones -- smart for older people? Which got me to thinking about smart and not-so-smart phones triggered by this article mentioning the touch screen HTC Hero Android smart phone. The 63-year-old interviewed likes the touch screen, likes the keyboard for texting with her grandchildren, and she appreciates the bar code scanner for in store price comparison. She didn't mention voice quality -- hopefully she uses the headphone jack so she doesn't feel like she's talking on a calculator. And she says: '"I'm retired for seven years, so I have the time and patience to play with all the stuff on the phone." Thankfully.
Not so smart cell phones have 'apps'. Now let's think about the so-called apps available for dumb cell phones as described today in the NY Times, including: "Puzzle games, a mobile e-mail application, a navigation application and an instant-messaging client, YouTube, Tetris, the restaurant locator Urbanspoon and a range of expense-tracking and calorie-counting apps." Hmm, what age group do you think they're targeting?
The Japanese are making a smarter 'dumb' cell phone. Now let's look at a Japanese cell phone feature list and wonder why no US manufacturer or distributor has duplicated the list of this Fujitsu Raku-Raku (Simple to use) phone? After you take a look at this list, think about the Doro, Jitterbug, the Samsung Knack. It's all about 'big buttons. The Clarity -- all about amplification. Hmmm. Think about the creativity of cell phone marketers targeting kids, you know, the teenagers who text with their eyes closed.
Shouldn't cell phones be as smart and simple as the Raku-Raku to serve a large boomer/senior market in the US that is not getting what it needs from smart and dumb phone choices? And maybe our wise-guy smart phones are too smart to be really useful for those among us who may be getting older and may have a bit of trouble seeing, hearing, or manipulating their small-buttoned keyboards or swiping touch screens.
But I suppose smart and dumb cell markets will converge soon and as they do, hopefully they'll pick up a few of these Raku-Raku capabilities* as described by Fujitsu:
* Some of the above capabilities are in BlackBerry and iPhone apps today.