Too Old For Your Smartphone? Study Claims Over 55 Set Wants Simple Devices

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-02-14 Print this article Print

title=Perpetuating Stereotypes at $3,000 Per Copy} 

For example, the survey assumes that the choices for all people (randomly chosen or not) over 55 are the same. It doesn't take into account that most in the 55-to-65 age range are probably still in the workforce. Nor does it take into account that older people likely need accommodations for special needs, such as highly visible displays. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the study assumes that everyone younger than 55 has the same preferences for smartphones, such as a "gamer" orientation. When I talked with the researcher involved, he seemed bewildered by the fact that I was questioning his methodology. However, he also seemed bewildered by the fact that I was familiar with survey methodology at all, which may tell you something. 

The real problem with this publication from In-Stat is that its customers are wireless vendors who might actually be influenced by its alleged findings. So let's say it here: This publication has no basis in reality. In-Stat is selling a $3,000 report that pretends to be valid research but isn't, and that perpetuates a stereotype of people over 55 that has no basis in reality. It's clearly being presented as something new and unexpected, but the reason it's unexpected is that the findings are false. 

Now, I'm not going to indulge in reverse ageism just because the head researcher for this project is in his 20s. I am, however, going to suggest that lack of experience may play a role here. Any researcher who had ever conducted a real survey would know that the criteria in this survey had no validity and that calling this research was stretching the truth. 

So the question is, why did In-Stat let this obviously flawed product see the light of day? I can't tell you the answer to that since I don't work there, and they're not likely to tell me, although I did ask. 

But I think the bottom line is that they didn't think their prospective customers would actually look beyond the assertions in this document and ask where the data came from. Of course, that's a problem with material presented as research-too many people take it at face value and don't look beyond the claims to see if they make sense. This time, the ageism and flawed methodology are simply too hard to miss. 


Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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