firstSTREET and MyGait release the "GO" Computer -- Demystifying PC, service by seniors for seniors

At the 2009 Boomer Venture Summit event June 17, 2009, senior catalog company firstSTREET and partner MyGait announced the GO Computer -- described, quite confusingly, not on the First Street Online site, but on a separate The GO Computer site (in itself mystifying), as a landmark breakthrough. The description: a "failure-free and fear-free" computer especially conceived for and by seniors over an eight-year period of hands-on research at senior centers and assisted living communities around the country."

The "designed for SENIORS GO Computer™" offers a "large-letter keyboard to its fool-proof operating system, to accommodate the needs and wishes of a demographic that has traditionally resisted the world of computers or had the hardest time accessing it. "And these are the very people," says first STREET's Mark Gordon, "who may well benefit most from email and Internet access." MyGait is a Houston services firm that markets to Assisted Living Facilities and senior housing, FirstStreet the catalog company that markets a broad range of senior-oriented products, including the Jitterbug phone.

The product ($799) was reviewed this week by GadgetFinder.  It is a thin-client product which becomes operational and offers services updates -- and service -- for $19.95 per month. The call center responders are seniors helping seniors -- 2000 of the MyGait customers who are familiar with the computer, providing counseling service about its use and if they can't help, the call is escalated to GO Computer service staffers. Says "GO Computer service staffer: "Everything is extremely secure.  All files are remotely saved at the GO Computer site, and if a user accidentally deletes something, GO Computer staffers retrieve it for them."

This is a possibly a great thing for the aging in place technology market. However, I think this is going to have to be placed into context with the previous 'Microsoft Senior PC' (> $1200) which has not been popular with seniors, largely because of price. With the touch screen PC available from Asus (promoted as easy to use) and inexpensive software that hides PC complexity (like PointerWare ('computers made simple'), a 'senior PC' is available today literally for half of that price -- but without the service angle -- which may make all the difference.

I called and got this description: "The GO Computer service  is offered by 2000 seniors, drawn from 10,000 MyGait customers, who provide unlimited phone and e-mail support (all emails will be answered within 24 hours or less); unlimited upgrades, effortless administrative tools, and user friendly links to safe websites.' And to make sure that seniors use the service -- the GO Computer doesn't actually work without access to the host site and agreement to the monthly service charge."

It is great to see competition to make a PC that today's seniors can enjoy. The more entrants the better, in my view. And price/performance/features of hardware like a touch screen in all-in-1 PCs is dropping. In fact, perhaps the GO Computer will drop in hardware price in the near term as a result of volume.

For those vendors out there who are avoiding the PC as a platform for new applications (think telehealth, for example and Intel's Health Guide), perhaps a rethink is in order. PC's have presumably been avoided because of  assumptions about senior tolerance levels for a PC's complexity. Whoops. Maybe they're not so complex with new devices, screens, software interfaces -- and service.

A PC offers enormous advantages for seniors who can use it (imagine one with a camera) to share with their grandchildren, surf the Internet, answer e-mail, learn about services (like transportation) and access other capabilities that widen their world. So:

  • The GO Computer and other easy-to-use PCs and software should challenge the biases and box proliferation of home monitoring, telehealth, home security, cable TV set top boxes, etc., etc.
  •   The out of the box $799 pricing sounds high -- but when you add the 'demystification' capability proven by residents of assisted living and senior housing -- the MyGait feature -- this becomes very interesting.
  •  For seniors who can afford to spend the money and say they will never use a computer -- this is very compelling. Perhaps senior centers and other aging-focused non-profits will figure out a scholarship strategy for those who can't afford it. I firmly believe that 100% of seniors age 65+ need this access.

 

 

Why "GO" when there are netbooks?

Count me skeptical. The "GO" is Dell-desktop priced @ $799 and you pay $19.99/month for their proprietary connection. I agree that it's nice and simple, especially on the touch screen, simplified keyboard (great after market item, already available I believe) and emailing.

Seems like netbooks can do the same thing at half the price. And they are approaching touch screen technology. Next, the senior friendly netbook?

Marketing clunkers: The "Rosemary's Computer" blog reads like someone other than Mark Gordon's 80 year old mother in law is writing it. It sounds fake, like those articles and fake blogs to drive website traffic and search results.

What would have been highly persuasive on the website are testimonials and videos showing seniors using and enjoying the GO. firstStreet is not marketing smarter here.

Side by side comparison needed.

Aloha,

As you know, we intend to spend time in the homes of our future Silver Surfers Club members demonstrating various AIP technologies which qualify for our club's SEAL OF APPROVAL.

Ease of learning, installation, and use plus affordability and after-sale service are key requirements for our approval.

Can you elaborate and compare ( using requirements listed above ) the various "connection" products you're aware of being offered in the market place today?

Thank you,

Peter
Maui

Comment on the Go Computer -- more like the GO Service

From Paul Moseley's comment on this month's newsletter:

"

I just talked to a Representative at First Street regarding the "Go Computer".  I explained that I have one parent who is very good with the computer and one that is totally illiterate.  He was quick to explain the ease of use, hand holding, non-technical advantages of the Go Computer and I applaud thier efforts to meet the needs of the Elderly and agree that this "Service" will help many.  I do have a problem with it being called a "Computer".  There is no hard drive, there is no CD or DVD slot to load special programs, watch movies, play Video sent by relatives or load additional programs.  What you see is what you get.  Basically you are paying $799.00 for a monitor, keyboard, trackball, speakers and a modem to connect you to the interet. If you decide that you do not like the service at $19.95 per month and cancel you will have no computer services because all the intelligence is located in a central computer at First Street.  The Go Computer will not work.

To meet the needs of my parents I would have to keep or upgrade their present computer for my mother and spend $799.00 for the Go Computer plus $19.95 per month for the service plus the monthly cost for broadband ($29.95).  By the way, the cable company will add an additional $5.00 per month for the second connection.  In a world where many elderly people do not have one computer, the idea of having two seems a little hard to imagine.  Also, my parents really don't have room for two computers in thier apartment at the Assisted Living facility.

I also feel that the 30 day trial offer is a good idea but I will still have to pay shipping and handling to return it if I decide it does not meet my needs.  I also took exception to the trial being the primary closing tactic for this particular rep.  Every time I asked a question or raised an objection his response was "just take it for the 30 day trial, if you don't like it you can send it back".  Many elderly will give in to this pressure tactic in order to be agreeable. They will be shocked when they find out what it takes to install and connect it or the additional charges involved.

Again, Kudo's to First Street for coming out with a product specifically designed for the elderly.  It will meet the needs of many. But it still fits a specific market and individual.  Not the masses.  If you want to use your existing programs (Microsoft, Excel, Word, Greeting Cards) I suggest you keep your present computer and go with a software product like Pointerware or Big Button to meet the needs of the "computer challenged."

First Street Go Computer

I've been looking into buying the First Street Go Computer recently. It's interesting your post from 6/25/09 has the price of the GO Computer at $799. The First Street website now has it at $879. That's the only "computer" I've ever seen go up 10% in price - ever. I can't believe their costs have increased, since you can get a laptop for under $400 now. What is with this company? I have to say, I just don't trust them.

When I do the calculations - if I used the GO Computer for just 3 years - I would spend almost $1600 for this thing. I could get 4 laptops for that money.

go computer

I was just reading about some comments on the go computer. And I would like to make a few comments about it my self.

First of all, let me start by saying that after my Mother passed away, my Father decided it was time he started using a computer for himself, and he bought the go computer.

He has had it for 34 days and after trying to communicate with mygait about adding a printer and a cd drive to the thing for about two weeks. He decided he would just send it back to them. But Firststreet/Mygait/Go whatever they want to call themselves said he is stuck with it, that they will not refund his money.

He had to wait on the phone 40 minutes to an hour trying to get somebody in customer service. When he emailed them it took 4 to 5 days before they would respond. He sent them an email that he wasn't satisfied with the computer or their service and they never emailed back and the copy of his email disapeared from his sent files folder (on the mygait hard drive). It appears that mygait monitors what goes on their hard drive.

The basic idea is good if you only want to surf the web. But if you want to print documents or watch movies on your ($879) computer don't get this one.

Leave an e-mail address -- you might get a response from MyGait

MyGait folks read this blog. 

This is not about the computer -- check the updated entry

This is about service for the computer by seniors -- for seniors. Remarkable.

One small concern about GO's security

Laurie, many thanks for your timely and well-researched blog.
Very interested in your covering of senior ready computers.

Failure-free and fear-free sound good. However, it might be useful for Front Street' President to post information about GO's security measures as his mother-in-law is using it. Looks like it already worked on her Day 6 blog. Her blog under http://rosemaryscomputer.com/ under Day 6 shows 1 comment from "Mike", which, when clicked leads to a disabled fraudulent phishing website message. My Mom at 90 would be afraid to run into that if she clicked on Mike to see who had made such a nice comment about her blog. Of course, it may just be a competitor.

Thanks and best wishes,
Jean W.

Another interesting easy to use computer for seniors

For seniors I love the ASUS EEE top, very affordable and super easy to use, all touch screen.
See results from our focus group at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCZ2qyiKRi0

Laura

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