"An Apple is the only computer I would buy for my mother." That's roughly the famous line said by Bill Gates' character to Steve Jobs' character in the based-on-real-events movie "Pirates of Silicon Valley." It turns out Gates might want to consider buying his mom an iPad as well.
I saw this surprising revelation in action recently. A couple with whom I am acquainted bought an iPad. They're both around 60-years-old. One still doesn't know how to check his cell phone voicemail. The other can't install a computer program without being walked through the process by her 25-year-old daughter. They subsequently told an even less computer-savvy couple in their late 50s how much they love the new device, and they too began considering buying one.
I didn't expect this, but I should have. Even though it might seem like the iPad would mostly appeal to younger consumers, re-examining that logic shows something different. In fact, whether you're a Generation Xer or Millennial, chances are that your mom wants an iPad for the following reasons:
1. It isn't that hard to use.
Your mom is awful with a computer. That time you taught her how to use e-mail, you felt like you needed a fifth of Jack to quench your frustration. But downloading an app is much, much easier than installing a program in Windows. You just go to the app store, download it, and -- voila! If she thought a Mac was easy to use, wait until she sees an iPad in action. Just pray she doesn't discover Facebook.
2. She doesn't need it for work.
One of the common early criticisms of the iPad was that you couldn't use it for work. But your mom doesn't need it for that. The average Baby Boomer doesn't spend all that much time on a computer outside the office for work, other than for e-mail and possibly some word processing. The iPad can satisfy those minimal requirements. But it can also beautifully display pictures of her grandchildren to show her friends. And it also allows her to read books and magazines, because people of her generation still enjoy print.
3. She doesn't know any better.
One reasons why the couples noted above were so excited about the iPad was because they could get Internet anywhere through AT&T's 3G connection. Of course, what they didn't fully grasp was that they could already do this with a wireless 3G card that would work with their laptop or netbook -- probably for cheaper. Because Baby Boomers are, on average, less tech savvy than their children, they will likely view the iPad as even more novel than it actually is.
4. Her girl friend has one.
Did any generation in U.S. history embody 'keeping up with the Joneses' with the same vigor as the Baby Boomers? But instead of a shiny new Mercedes SUV in her driveway, now your mom will want an iPad. After all, her friend just got one and says it's really great.
5. She can afford it.
Another common complaint about the iPad is its high price tag. Consequently, technology-loving younger consumers might not be able to afford one. But your mom doesn't have that problem. She's probably not saving up for a down payment on a new home, and she's already paid for her kids to go to college. A few hundred dollars won't put much of a dent in her nest egg.
For all these reasons, your mom wants an iPad. Good luck talking her out of it. She's the one who got you to eat your peas.