Smartphone Innovation Hinges on Seniors, Not Junior

Portrait of senior man using smartphoneRight now in the United States there are over 40 million Americans aged 65 or older. In fact, people born between 1946 and 1964 – the “baby boomers” – make up nearly half of the population in the United States and every day 8,000 more of them turn 65.

Up until now this group has largely been ignored by most mobile technology companies, but recent announcements from Apple and Samsung show that this is no longer the case.

In fact, many innovations by these companies and others are being spurred on by an aging population that’s still quite active and also requires not only personal control but centralization of data relating to their health and wellness as well as their fitness.

One great example is the recent partnering between Apple, Nike and the Mayo Clinic to bring Apple’s new iOS 8 HealthKit platform, and its accompanying  app, to market.

It really only makes sense that these technology companies are finally providing technology to the biggest segment of the American population, in order to meet the needs of not just fitness enthusiasts but also the huge group of aging people who are suffering from chronic diseases and need better access to information as well as better communication with their medical doctors.

Surprisingly, many marketers believed that this segment of the population was either too small or too uninterested in technology to matter, an attitude that’s quickly changing.

Now they are starting to realize that the opposite is true and that baby boomers are actually the biggest and fastest growing population. Not only that but they also are engaging with new technologies like mobile and digital more than ever before and have the time and energy to spend learning and using them.

Tammy Sachs of Sachs Insights came away with a lot of valuable information after speaking with a group of 65 to 80 year-olds recently. She found that not only are they completely engaged in their new smartphones but are even early adopters and digital problem solvers. Many of the people she spoke to are simply keeping up with the times and trying to stay as relevant as possible.

For example, they’re managing their medical conditions, tracking calories, using fitness and diet apps and sending data directly to their medical doctors from their smart phones. Many of the iPhone attachments and apps available for measuring heart rate, sleep quality, blood sugar and other physical functions are also being used, and used regularly.

That’s not to say that baby boomers don’t have their own challenges when it comes to new technology, including problems with dexterity, vision and a new “learning curve.” New innovations are helping, however, including larger screens, interfaces that are more intuitive and voice recognition technology that allows them to avoid using their fingers altogether.

Nevertheless, it seems that pharmaceutical brands have finally realized the tremendous opportunity available to not only increase the role in supporting healthier outcomes but also their relevancy with consumers that, while aging, are still tech savvy.

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