As a tech geek, I often observe various uses of technology, especially who is using them, how they’re using them, and why. One thing that I’ve noticed is that many people, typically over ~40, have trouble with technology, usually saying it’s confusing, when in reality, they simply don’t want to take 5 minutes to learn it. That’s another conversation though. What’s interesting today is that these consumers typically tolerate different levels of complexity for different technologies.
Case in point, my parents. They’re what I would call technologically literate, both having email accounts that they use, relatively advanced cell phones (my mom carries my old N95-3), and use the computer, have a home theatre system with large TV, etc. They also recently got a Roomba. If you don’t know, a Roomba is a robotic vaccuum cleaner that can be programmed to clean up at various times, etc. You can check it out here.
A few months ago, I tried to give my N95-3 to my dad. I did my best to set it up for him, so that he had very little to do, other than stick his SIM card in. After about a week, he politely informed me that he hated it, and found it really confusing to use. I know this has a level of internal perception, because he had no problems using the E71 previously, which uses the same version of Nokia’s S60 operating system. He thought it would be confusing, and so it was. In watching him try to use it, I noticed that his tolerance level for the phone was extremely low – if it didn’t do *exactly* what he wanted, with minimal effort, it was deemed too complicated, just like that.
Contrast this to the Roomba. He and my mom proudly displayed and demo’d it for Mrs. Guru and I a few weeks ago, telling how great it worked, and how they had to program it to say where to go, and when to run. They shared a few frustrations, such as the noise level, and how it got stuck sometimes. They had even named it (I don’t remember the name, but I do recall suggesting my mom paint on a housekeeper’s apron, lol).
Given the utility of the N95 and the Roomba, I’m fascinated at how they were willing to sit down and read the manual of the Roomba, but couldn’t be bothered to give the N95 more than 15-20 minutes to figure things out. As both my mom and my dad frequently call, text, send pictures, etc, it’s a no-brainer to see that they would get far more use from the N95 than the Roomba, which only accomplishes a single task (vaccuuming). So why does the lesser-used product get more attention?
Since noticing this, I’ve tried to observe my own habits, as well. I suppose I’m a bit more logically-thinking, but I will devote plenty of time to learning how to do things on my phone and getting it to function how I like, because I know it’s the single most often-used piece of technology that I have. Any thoughts as to why some technology is approached with more patience than others?