Saturday, November 14, 2015

IT Jargon: Baby Boomer Compatibility

Baby boomer compatibility is a slang term for the pressure placed on technology companies to produce usable and understandable devices targeted to the baby boomer generation. In the U.S., baby boomers are the largest and most easily identified demographic, and more importantly, currently hold a large amount of wealth. Thus, tech firms are driven to market and sell to such a large market. However, baby boomer compatibility is a common issue, as this particular generation is less technologically literate than its successors.

Baby boomers tend to get a bad rap for their inability to adjust to changing technology. To be fair, most baby boomers came of age in the 1960s, and what we consider to be modern technology – personal computers, the Internet and cellphones, etc. – was not commercially available until the 80s and 90s - a point when boomers were approaching midlife and, generally, less likely to have an interest in, or knack for, cutting edge technology.

Because of the rich market represented by boomers, tech producers make a concerted attempt to create products that are compatible with the baby boomer generation. Some of these solutions are elegant, such as touch interfaces, larger display fonts and so on. Just as often, however, the end result is a ham-fisted dumbing down of a product that reduces functionality more than it increases compatibility.