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Is the iPad for boomers and seniors? Could be!

So much iHoopla about the iPad. But as the famous saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity and folks at Apple must be having a great time with this. The geeks have weighed in, plenty of snippy negative commentary has been spewed about the Apple iPad (including lots of sophomoric humor about the product name). I particularly enjoyed the whining on the Motley Fool site -- called "Fool Analysts Debate the iPad" which so easily could have been renamed 'Analyst Fools Debate the iPad".  The gist, if you haven't the time to read it, is that it is lacking a phone, camera, and USB port, which it must have, they say, wisely speaking entirely from their own geeky user requirements. But what the heck, they're gonna buy one anyway.

What's the iPad got that boomers and seniors might like? Well, first let's just view the website of a popular netbook, the HP Mini, with its 'reading glasses required' (some might say illegible) screen to go with its very light weight. Don't be fooled by the 'Accessibility Tools' link on the upper left of the HP website.  That's for viewing the feature/specifications web page -- which without enlargement is also illegible. Okay, now wander over to the Apple iPad specification page and scroll down to the bottom. Yes -- that's where you'll find Accessibility features -- "Support for playback of closed-captioned content, VoiceOver screen reader, Full-screen zoom magnification, and mono audio, which combines the sound of the left and right channels into a mono signal played on both sides. This enables users with hearing impairment in one ear to hear the entire sound signal with the other ear."  

RIM futurist talks of a "world of Floridas."  Joseph Dvorak, PhD, Manager of Innovation and Technology Futurist for Research in Motion spoke recently of a 'world of Floridas'* -- the 700 million people worldwide over the age of 60. That's now, not in 2050 when there will be 2 billion.  RIM has some nice features for accessibility and the BlackBerry -- this material is copyrighted 2010, so it's very recent. Thinking about the metaphor of a 'world of Floridas', perhaps a 1.5 pound iPad can be placed in backpacks for cruises or other travel, perhaps assisted by cruise lines that offer iPad-specific charging and wireless features. Perhaps access to 140,000 apps, a bigger screen than either an iPhone or BlackBerry, the ability to watch movies, check health-related websites, super-size text, web pages, and e-mails easily, and listen to music or soundtracks (with one or both ears). And let's not forget a swipable touch screen that could enhance navigation for those that find the iPhone a bit small.  No learning curve if you already have an iPhone. Yeah, that would fit right into a 'world of Floridas.'

Platform for apps and add-ons that boomers and seniors could love.  So they probably will add the much-ballyhood missing camera for Skyping with the grandkids.  And for those multi-taskers out there, maybe someday you can do six things at once, like the Motley foolish folk. Or maybe, for that $499 price (a fraction of a new Mac), you just want to focus and watch that movie, listen to that music, and relax for a change.


* Putting aside the fact that Florida, the 4th largest state in the US, has 18 million people and a median age of 38.







'Watching movies' on the iPad means, of course, the movie-industry produced movies that you pay to download. All that video-based content on YouTube and other video streaming sites (and all the embedded versions of them you see on websites) is not viewable on the iPad.

The Ipad may be the thing to get my 80 year old Father connected to the rest of the family. He can send emails and save pictures without having to spend hours getting trained on the computer.

I can see the iPad catching on with boomers but I'm not so sure about older seniors, espcially if they've never used a computer before. They still have to contend with numerous icons, Apple's O/S and other limitations. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe, for example, the iPad doesn't come with a webcam for video conferencing = no Skyping the grandkids!)

I've seen other products that I think are better suited to the "senior senior". E-mail programs like Celery (www.mycelery.com) are one option. Even better is PointerWare (www.pointerware.com). It's super simple to use and would let your Father do the things you mentioned - e-mail and pictures - plus Internet browsing, brain fitness games and video chats.

Anyhow, there's been much buzz about the iPad as an option for boomers and seniors and the discussion can only be good.

After all the hype and the teasers particularly about medical use, where it would actually be cool if built a lot more indestructibly--it's got a lot of the same flaws as the 1.0 editions of the iPod and iPhone.

It's not really smaller, appreciably lighter, and it has an annoying touchscreen keyboard. These make me crazy with phones, which is why I don't have an iPhone or corresponding Verizon phone. It reportedly doesn't multitask because it's running the iPhone OS. No camera or mic, no Flash (thus no YouTube) and no USB port. And I hate being tied to Apple for apps. There's nothing about it that would tear me away from my Dell Mini netbook.

This is so much the Apple 'game'--gin up the Apple fever--rope in the faithful with something not quite ready to get the cash going, get the feedback and 2 years later have a reliable, fully featured device. Think back to the intros of the iPod and iPhone and see if it doesn't correspond. But this time, it's being launched into the teeth of a horrible recession.

My Magic 8 Ball sez....the future is cloudy.

Thanks you for your informative blog post. I had come to the conclusion that boomers would like this device, even if it didn't have the camera and phone, and has an unfortunate name. But I hadn't given much thought to the accessibility issues of the iPAD. You enlightened me. FYI, the iBook reader should be almost as easy on the eyes as the Kindle reader, even though it doesn't use E-Ink technology. http://www.techandboomers.blogspot.com

Flash is not for geeks only. From the PC World article (http://www.pcworld.com/article/188185/apples_ipad_and_the_flash_clash.html)...

"There's something important missing from Apple's approach to connecting consumers to content. ... Without Flash support, iPad users will not be able to access the full range of Web content, including over 70% of games and 75% of video on the Web. If I want to use the iPad to connect to Disney, Hulu, Miniclip, Farmville, ESPN, Kongregate, or JibJab -- not to mention the millions of other sites on the web -- I'll be out of luck." [END QUOTE]

Also, no video camera? Then how to teleconference with friends, family and care providers? No multi-tasking capability? Oy.

The Ipad may very well be a cool looking "brick". The early adaptors and gadget geeks(like me) may love or be intrigued by the Ipad, but it lacks some seriously important configurations in its current incarnation. The major factor that strongly favors the Ipad is its support for the huge cornucopia of Iphone mobile apps. As demo'ed at CES, there are many companies that will soon be offering Ipad-like devices with multi-touch interfaces and full-support for all web-enabling activities. Even today you can purchase an Asus tablet computer at a lower price than the fully configured Ipad, though it lacks the "coolness" factor of the Ipad.

Sadly, Steve Jobs might have finally missed the mark on this one. The iPad in a phrase is an "oversized iTouch."
Beautiful as usual, it lacks key capabilities that could have made this a great appliance for everyone.
As already mentioned, no flash. Browser-based apps and Flash-driven content are huge elements of cloud computing and of many Web sites.
Without flash, one can't even run FaceBook games; a growing favorite for seniors with computers.
No ability to upload pics. Ok, maybe seniors will be the viewers, not be the contributors.
No camera. Say goodbye to video chats with the family.
No storage other than what you buy. So, if you get 16gb to be frugal, that's all you will have.
Typing is cumbersome. So, why pay so much for a little glitz?
Netbooks are cheaper and much better suited to be all-around appliances for seniors if size matters.
Try again, Steve (Jobs).

You can upload pictures with a $25 adapter. Easy to use. I LOVE the iPad. Try again and check out many many apps

Doesn't seem like a good idea to buy one of these now -- unless you already have a PC or a MAC and various installed software on one or the other. Anyway, I won't comment further -- here's the link.

I am a big fan of apple products and have been using using iphone and ipad, to be honest and in-short both are kind a same things but the size. I personally think that 'size does matter' ;) and that's the reason apple has unhesitatingly launched ipod on steroids --> the iPad. basically ipad is more ficused towards work, job, business however for fun and joy, apple has ipod for their buyers. Though iPad lacks some things but apple ipad accessories fill those lacking features by giving an ultimate diversified plug & play gadgets to users including external keyboard, docks, Bluetooth headset and more.

No piece of technology can be all things, but in my work with independent seniors living at home, I have often recommended this device because it is very easy to read ebooks on and watch movies on, as well as receive emails and use a very comfortably sized keyboard.

It is simple - and that is what most seniors are looking for - simplicity. Even those people who are not technology saavy can figure out an iPad. With the additional benefit of apps, there will only be increased opportunities to engage seniors in attending social events, researching areas of interest, reading, listening to music, watching a movie - whether inside or outside on a porch.

While netbooks have their place, they are not intuitive enough for someone who doesn't want to figure out how it works and accept its limitations.

For the money, the iPad is a great tool and gift.

Thanks for your response. I just came across this article.


Since the Nook has upgraded to full color on an Android platform--has WiFi access for a built in web browser--has expansion and supports PDF--and of course supports reading and images--it's worth considering for seniors. It's also 50% of the iPad price @ $249. By early next year it's expected to have email and full access to Android apps.

When I commented on the iPad below, I was looking more at the professional usage in eHealth. For that it's a supplement to a laptop or netbook, no more. In typical Apple fashion, it's a closed world. Just as with the iPhone, Android will outsell it.