Post image for The iPad and Granddad.

The iPad and Granddad.

August 3, 2010

in innovation, ipad, Knowledge Innovation

I’ve written a few posts on the user implications of the iPad and changes to behavior that I’ve observed. You can find these here.

Imagine my delight to find the BMWMOA International Rally had WiFi everywhere! It was excellent, consistent and delivered at high speed. Despite there being 6109 attendees there wasn’t the pressure on the network that you get at a geek fest, the interest was more in bikes, chat, and a beer or two. Still as usual I was keeping my eye open for technology – particularly iPads which beat netbooks and carrying laptops on a bike any day. There were plenty of iPhones around too in this crowd. Now this biker crowd definitely skews older – it’s quite possible the average age was over 60 there. And I know the average age of BMW riders is north of 50.

I had placed my tent down to get a shady tree early in the week. By the time I returned on Thursday my choice spot was very crowded and bikers from all over had moved in. I went to the Rally knowing no-one and was pleased to find myself in the midst of a very eclectic group. Yet in my business I’m always looking for a few insights or reminders about how the world is changing and how people are having difficulty with it. So this post is really a short story about one of my campmates a retired lawyer from Texas who’s been coming to these Rallies for quite a few years. This is less about his stories and more about my observations. If you read this my friend I trust you see how much I enjoyed sharing with you.

My buddy had one of the latest Sprint phones an HTC Evo I think… or Samsung. It was an Android phone. He also had an iPad which first got us talking about them. I also know that I changed his world talking and sharing with him what he could do with both of these tools. After we talked they were more magical and valuable to him. And the world changed slightly.

Let’s step back. He’s retired and it was his daughter that really wanted the iPad. I suspect she conned him into buying one for him too. Perhaps he thought it a good idea for the trip this year. It wasn’t the type of conversation where I could dwell too deeply on these issues. His daughter had set it up for him. His grandkids had put a couple of games on it. It didn’t have more than one and a half screens worth of apps downloaded. The iPad was doing what he thought it could do at this point and not really showing him what it could do.

So naturally I asked him what he was using it for… and we began talking about his backroads route going back to Texas. We found ourselves talking about using google maps app versus google maps in safari to find routes. (iPad tends to push you back to the app). Soon I was showing him my iPad and how I’d used DropBox to drop my route maps from my Mac onto and then save them for offline use on my IPad. But we had a more immediate need. He needed maps and screens for tomorrow…. when he wouldn’t have cell coverage (more on that later) as his like mine is WiFi only. FIRST SIMPLE trick. Take a picture of the screen. Both buttons simultaneous click. So he soon had his photo file filling with maps/screenshots of directions. He was delighted and and I’m sure he never looked at the paper maps he had on the way home. The satellite view convinced us that a few roads also weren’t right for his 1200RT.

Of course this exercise took us into comparing iPads. He looked at mine with its pages of news apps. Within moments I’d got him downloading apps for WSJ, NYTimes Bloomberg etc. I can’t say how thrilled he was with this discovery. I made sure he downloaded them. We did search I then show him categories and how to find free apps etc. He was just delighted to get a daily fix opportunity for the Drudge Report. Oh well….

Then this took us to mobiles. He’d said perhaps you can help me with this… I then learned he had an unlimited data plan on Sprint with an Android handset. I started looking for the data modem on it. I was telling him it is only finding the app or it is already installed and you can use this as a wifi hotspot to provide all the connectivity he could need for his iPad almost anywhere. Unfortunately, that’s one I didn’t solve but again I know he will call sprint or check around / go into their store to find out how to use it as a hotspot.

We spent about an hour on this. Both of us I’m sure were highly animated. I had a blast. I also learned he’d paid for a $99 course at the Apple store. Basically as many help visits / tuition as he wanted. I’m not sure he’d been yet. Yet I’d been showing him ABC TV, NetFlix etc. He hadn’t been aware of the streaming capability. He didn’t have iBooks installed and I then helped him add Kindle too and talked about the differences. Another “bingo” moment. I challenged him to a racing game…. it’s about that time that the other guys told us to turn them off. I think there was some tech envy creeping in – although my other campers were still being slowing pushed into the tech world.

While nice to know that one iPad user now thinks his iPad is many times more valuable and I think well certainly hope I’ve made him more curious about it and willing to explore, the whole experience was one big red flag. Tech Geek world continues to make too many assumptions. We may think the iPad is an easy to use product or that the latest Android in your hands is going to get all the various options explored. The fact is few people either have the curiosity, or the understanding to know that it should do something. These products are magical when you are curious….. otherwise they are just a dumb purchase that isn’t leveraged to the max.

Some Observations.

  • Granddad is / can adapt to the iPad very rapidly. However, he’s probably going to like “print” – news more than “music” (and may have never had an iPod). He’s probably also splurge on games for grandkids when he understands how to add them.
  • The iPad doesn’t / fails to create a “magic” moment out of the box for users like my friend above. That’s because they see it as a PC which for them is just email… or not much more.
  • There’s a collection of Magical Products – that could make a difference. However because they are only found in the APP store we can’t assume they will ever be found. In fact the iPad store organization is terrible for helping with this problem. There’s not even a first time visitor or user set of suggestions.
  • Steve Jobs for all the great marketing he is attributed with is blowing the educational opportunity with every iPad and for that matter iPhone and iPod Touch sold. The suggestions I provided, the mini-tutorials may seem so obvious that you think you can skip them. You can’t. These should be installed on the device when it ships. The idea that there is no “HELP” effectively is a mistake.
  • There’s no reminder of why it is “magical” out of the box. PC manufacturers junked up their PC’s with unwanted software for years. I don’t want to see that on the iPad. Yet a few videos… the how you do this and that – take a screen shot…. explore books, etc.
  • Even WiFi and Using HotSpots can add some understanding of utility. Here’s a guy that has a hotspot in his phone and he doesn’t know it. If he knew it… the iPad just became more valuable.

My reflections above lead me to believe that Apple doesn’t really have a good grasp on these new iPad users. Yes it is early days. However, the Geeks are giving them to everyone. Christmas will see huge numbers sold. My belief and the proof point really is we all want our elders to stay current, we want to keep them going, keep them curious and we’re willing to give them expensive gifts from time to time. If the choice for many is… do I give my daughter one or my father…. I think I’ll hear I can share the one at home (although the device is more personal than I expected it to be) and give one to my Dad first.

The out of the box experience is lacking. An iPod Touch may hit the market with YouTube and Music, an iPad doesn’t. It needs TV on it… more Books, some Newspapers and magazines. And most important it needs to make the APP store really accessible. Right now it confronts people with “Ah I will be paying” and potentially all the concerns this target has with online shopping. It’s a danger zone rather than a learning and pleasure zone. It’s probably a shame it is known as a store rather than a “Zone” or a “Mall”. A “Zone” would really help with things like free, learning, hints, geniusbar, and then all the other things that could be brought in. Eg social element, meetup places etc. I’m sure that it is coming yet it’s coming too slow.

Smart Phones – similar problems. I tried to find the hotspot capabilities and couldn’t.  I couldn’t find the store in two minutes to see where to go and look for it. Everything about the Android remains more complex than the iPhone from what I’ve seen with each test I’ve used and tried. The message still isn’t getting through. Dumb it down. Dumb it down. Actually make it easy to use. I believe the mobile carriers aren’t making “hotspotting” with your mobile easy enough. Now that data seems to be charged for charging extra for this option like AT&T is obviously just what it is. A rip-off.

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