If you've known me longer than five minutes, you know I LOVE technology. I always want to own the latest gadget, I think social networking rocks, and I tweet almost daily (sometimes several times a day). I was also one of the early bloggers in cyberspace, so I'd put my techno-skills up against most anyone from any other generation. This often seems to surprise people and that's what I don't get.
Why would anyone think it's the least bit unusual that a 50-something-year-old would embrace technology? After all, we're the generation that introduced the Gen Xers and beyond to some of the most popular technology ever used (PCs, cell phones, laptops, to name a few). The older I get the MORE I embrace technology. And guess what? I'm not alone. We boomers not only like our gadgets, we're willing to spend on them. In 2010 alone, it has been predicted that boomers will outspend younger generations by a trillion dollars and the over-50 crowd will plop down a lot of those dollars on electonics. We're just as likely to own the latest technology as the generations behind us.
The AARP and Microsoft conducted an extensive study recently in which they set out to discover what boomers want and expect from technology. In a nutshell, they learned that boomers especially like cutting-edge technology that's practical. (Think picoprojectors and digital cameras that let you throw an image on a wall right after you take the picture.) When it came to medical records, access to health information and doctors, the boomers said, "bring it on!"
What we don't like, according to this research, is unnecessary complication. In other words, some products pack in so many features, it actually turns us off. Smartphones, for instance, often have features that seem to exist solely because they're cool and in the procsess they drown out the truly functional things we care about (like simply making a phone call). That said, we boomers aren't necessarily the right target for, say, the Jitterbug. There must be a happy medium.
Frankly, what I'm really enjoying is seeing the magic that occurs when technology (such as our mobile phones) make it possible to instantly rally around a cause (such as texting a donation), or vote for a favorite contestant, or store a boarding pass.
I guess what it comes down to is that we boomers have a very healthy appreciation for technology that lets us be as independent as possible, as in control as possible, and as connected as possible. Is that too much to ask?
So, pay attention marketers. After all, 2010 is the year that a third of the population of the U.S. will be over 50. Yep, there's a bunch of us.
"There's an ap for that" was cute the first billion times. Now, if it doesn't really help us do something we need to do, it's just a throw-away phrase.