Boomers and technology – an opposite opinion from the AARP

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Yesterday I posted some statistics in my post on baby boomers and smartphone adoption. This was inspired by several scintillating conversations about smartphones with a good friend who is a young baby boomer.  The gist of it is that most boomers adopt technology slowly, and only when they see the benefit.  I ended my post hoping boomers would adopt smartphones, which I dig.

Today an alert coworker pointed me to a piece of research that appears to paint an opposite picture.  The AARP and Microsoft organized focus group like discussions for 60 people in four cities to share their insights on technology with author and futurist Michael Rogers.  The resulting report had several astonishing key takeaways. It states that boomers are enthusiastic about technology and are adopting in every area, including social media, leading edge technology like projection cell phones and computer goggles for augmented reality, reading news on smartphones and the like.

My eyebrows went higher and higher as I read this report.  This goes against everything I understand from studying, working with,  and socially interacting with baby boomers.  They are definitely not anti-technology; they buy good stuff when they do buy something.  But the vast majority of them fit the late majority stereotype more than they fit the vision put forth by the report.  And the statistics support this as well.

I eventually realized I wasn’t framing this correctly.  This was a discussion about cutting edge technology with forward thinking mavens, led by a technology lover.   This was not a discussion with “average” boomers who are in the middle of the bell curve.  When I re-read it in that context, it made much more sense.  In each demographic segment, there are technology enthusiasts, and those are probably the people in the roundtable discussion.

So all those insights hold.  I just have to remember these insights are representative of a small fraction of the entire baby boomer demographic.

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