Silver Surfers – computer users with a disposable income and the desire to spend it – are often seen as a seam to be mined. Cue rubbing of hands.
We’ve all heard the stories of the computer wiz grandmother. This category of Silver Surfer is easily catered for because they are confident computer users and integrate more easily into mainstream internet and software use. Here the designer’s considerations lie in integrating the diverse issues related to older users into their designs. But the emphasis tends towards getting them connected so that they can spend, spend, spend. A rich seam indeed.
But what of the novice computer user over 50? Less on the radar are the type of older user who want to do two or three simple things like keep in touch with family, share photos and browse the internet for personal interests. They are concerned with trustworthiness, security and reliability. They also don’t necessarily want to go to a class to learn how to use a computer but want it to be clear what does what, for instance, what is clickable. They may also not be very keen to spend online.
Well, it’s gratifying therefore to see the launch of SimplicITy, a new PC that caters to all these needs as its primary concern. It has no start up screen, no need to log in (so no need to remember pesky passwords) and there are six basic options: email, browse the web, chat, about me, video tutorials (presented by Valerie Singleton no less) and documents. The email option breaks down clearly into the choice of read, write and address book. The system runs on Linux which is said to be immune to viruses and therefore safe and reliable.
Even though the cynic in me believes that getting people connected to the internet these days seems to be about relieving them of their money in one way or another, I nonetheless look forward to following SimplicITy’s successes in the future.