Monday, October 13, 2014

Et tu, AARP?

I’ve been in a foul mood ever since AARP introduced RealPad, a 16GB, Android-based tablet. (Full disclosure, I’ve pretty much been in a foul mood since 1977, but that’s beside the point.)

Anyway, I’m not mad at the product. It could be awesome for all I know. And at $189, it seems well priced. What pisses me off is the marketing.

From the press release:
Powered by Intel, RealPad to Serve as Digital Gateway to Over 70 Million Americans 50+

I hate to break it to you AARP, but I lost my virginity--oops, I mean "digital gateway"--more than 20 years ago. In fact, most of us are pretty adept at the whole digital game.

Shit, some of us even invented it. Paul Allen (58), Tim Berners-Lee (59), Larry Brilliant (70), Ward Cunningham (65), Bill Gates (58) and Larry Ellison (70). Oh, and a couple of guys you may have heard of named Wozniak and Jobs.

And then there’s this:
--88% of people aged 50-64 in the U.S. are online
--33% of all tablets and eReaders are owned by people 50+, including 23% of all iPads and 30% of all Kindle Fires
--An estimated 50 million Facebook users in the U.S. are older than 45
--Smartphone use among people 55+ is growing at a faster rate than 25-54 year olds
Perhaps it’s not entirely accurate to say that technology is “a daunting experience for a large majority of Americans 50+,” as AARP’s CEO JoAnne Jenkins tells us. Perhaps there’s more to the story.

By all accounts, RealPad is super simple to use. The interface features large type and big icons. It comes with free, 24/7 customer support from live experts. And it’s pre-loaded with video tutorials that walk you through tablet basics like how to use a touch screen.

But here's the thing, perpetuating the myth that people over 50 are digital dimwits is not good karma, or good marketing, for AARP.

This is a tablet for seniors, and AARP knows it. And by pretending RealPad is designed for users 50+, they’re guilty of the same lazy, ageist thinking as most other marketers.

AARP needs to get back to first principles. Market to peoples' needs and interests, not their age.


  1. @ 70 yrs old i have:
    entered the digital age via dos3 on a IBM 8088 machine that upon boot counted it's 256 kb 1kb at a time taking about 2 mins to get to the dos prompt.
    Kept abreast via 286, 386,both sx & dx 486, Pentiums 1,2,3
    2 years ago designed and built from scratch a graphics intense intel i7 quad core, 24 Gb ram, Nvidia Graphics, 3 1 tb HDs, liquid cooled beast driving 3 hd monitors. Loaded with Photoshop, Autodesk 3Ds max animation, pro audio and video programs, just to name a few...AND completely, on my own taught myself everything

  2. There are so many of us retiring now, after 40 years pioneering IT, and using our experience to keep ahead of the current geeks who are making many of the mistakes which lead to security breaches etc. The problem these marketing bozos have is that we know the tech so much better than they do, and choose to buy so much better kit than they try to fob us off with.

  3. I may still be in my 30s, but I've always been accused of being older than my years. What never ceases to amaze me is the "universal truth" that kids today are so much more tech savvy and knowledgeable than their elders. Take a look around most IT departments. Check those average ages. Show the average teen or 20-something a new computer with a blank hard drive. See what they can do with it. Have a system crash and see if they can diagnose it, let alone attempt to fix it.

    The younger generation know how to open a web browser or tap on an app. They generally know diddly about technology. No, not ALL of them. There are 'geeks' today who get it just like there were 20 years ago when this new fangled "interweb" thing first started tying up landlines nation-wide. When AOL spammed REAL mailboxes with 3.5" plastic squares (you know, those 3D save icons) to try getting America "online" for a few hours a month.

    Some days I miss trying to program graphics on a Commodore 64. That was fun stuff right there ... 8 bit goodness!

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