AARP/Intel’s simplified tablet–insulting to 50+?

click to enlargeEarlier this month, AARP announced its marketing of the RealPad, a simplified 7.85″ tablet. Its positioning is clearly aiming at the less tech-savvy cohort over 50. With much fanfare, AARP is touting its partnership with Intel in this ” intuitive, easy-to-use software interface for RealPad” on Android KitKat 4.4. It will be available at Walmart this fall at $189 (preorder via AARP) and it has the requisite big icons, front and back cameras and free 24/7 customer service. Release.

The Eye Rolls. We know that the AARP bread ‘n’ butter is creating loyalty for their products by catering to those who pay for their association’s services, but a press release headline like this sounds tinny to many of the younger and not-so-young people in this age group:

AARP ANNOUNCES REALPAD, FIRST OF ITS KIND TABLET DESIGNED FOR AMERICANS 50+ APPREHENSIVE ABOUT TECHNOLOGY

Powered by Intel, RealPad to Serve as Digital Gateway to Over 70 Million Americans 50+

click to enlarge‘Apprehensive’ sounds like a tablet bites the unwary. The Eye thinks about the pioneers of computing, retired and not: programmers, data analysts, techies, system architects, sales and marketing, device developers. This also includes the 55+ doctors and clinicians who adopted the iPad early and are considering upgrading to iPhone 6, healthcare analysts, a few more marketers, plus a whole lot of older people worldwide on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Not to be overly microcosmic, but an old friend who has just Gone West at 90+ checked her stocks, researched genealogy on multiple databases, read her publications online for years and generally was an early adopter of normal PC programs. She wasn’t a programmer but a WWII-vintage military wife and widow. Yes, she shared photos and had video chats, but it wasn’t her primary use. Yet to AARP sharing the grandkids’ photos and staying in touch with family are the reasons why their members would buy the tablet. Not very advanced.

Cost? In the US, major wireless retailer Verizon offers not only a smartphone but also throws in a free 7″ tablet. All you need do is sign a contract. Perhaps it’s where the Eye shops, but there’s always grey hair buying in those Verizon stores and not for the grandkids.

Blogger Steve Moran on his Senior Housing Forum is even stronger, proposing that AARP is exploiting ageist stereotypes with a ‘tablet for dummies’. Older adults are  ‘not dumb just old'” and even worse, they ‘destroy prospects for jobs.’ As he put it, “AARP and Intel stop selling this thing right now. Admit it was a stupid demeaning mistake.”

Is AARP right and there’s a need for this? Is it their approach that’s wrong? Or are they exploiting, as Mr Moran maintains, age stereotypes on technology use for their fun and profit? Your thoughts please.

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