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Converting Britain’s pensioners to ShoZu, one group at a time

I’m sat in Cafe Rouge in one of the Home Counties. I won’t identify the specific one or the rather nice town in which I’m currently located, because I plan a few sweeping generalist comments and I don’t want hate mail from the local council’s online PR department (as happened recently with an unnamed English market town).

So.

Cafe Rouge. A bit formulaic, yes. A bit … fake-French. It is authentic in many parts. You get bonafide authentic French service — i.e. drooping eyelid annoyance on the part of the waiters, uncomfortable seats, that sort of thing.

Cafe Rouge is a chain here in the UK foisting semi French fare on whoever will take it. This one, however, is located in a rather nice leafy place, South West of London.

The ‘Rouge punters are very well heeled. The credit crunch is not being felt here. The car park is rammed full of Mercedes, Lexus and Range Rovers.

And all eyes turned upon me when I entered a little while ago.

That’s because I’m substantially below 65.

As I opened the door, I found myself gazing at a sea of ladies-who-lunch and retired Barbour-clad gentry.

In Cafe Rouge?

I kid ye not.

I took a seat by the window and whipped out my Mac Air and stuck in the Vodafone dongle.

And I set to work. Stuff to do. People to email. Overflowing inboxes. Twitter accounts to ignore. That sort of thing.

All is fine. I have a meeting in 2 hours so this place looked to me to be a good choice. I’ve been here once or twice before and it’s served me well previously.

I didn’t reckon on it being this busy though.

After a few minutes, I whipped out a phone box and pulled out my new Blackberry Storm. I could feel — and, er, see — people looking. Old chaps were turning in their seats and nodding toward me, in between discussions about Woolworths going bust and heated discussions about how cold it is.

I didn’t pay much attention. I did spend at least 180 of the most painful seconds of my mobile life trying to unlock the Storm. Like a school-for-the-gifted arse, prodding the screen repeatedly.

Press the unlock button, it said. I pressed on screen. PRESS. PRESS-PRESS-PRESS.

Until, as I turned bright red, I realised there was a physical sodding button on the top of the device.

At which point a chap sauntered over. Slowly. At least 65 I reckon. Barbour bodywarmer and scarf still on, despite the warm restaurant. I reckoned his was the S500 Mercedes nearest the door.

“Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you,” he said, eyes casting across my little table full of mobile devices.

“Shit,” I thought, “I’ve wandered into some Mobile Phone Chairman’s Club and they’re all going to know I didn’t have a clue how to unlock this new Storm.”

I looked up.

“Hello,” I said, putting the Storm down on the table. Face down.

“Is that an iPhone you have there?” he asked.

Cue internal sigh of relief. This chap does not own half of RIM.

“No, this is the new Blackberry Storm,” I say, holding it up and mentally crossing my fingers in case he wanted to actually SEE the device working. Hadn’t worked out the unlock at this point you see.

“Ahhh,” he said, crestfallen.

“It’s just, my friends and I,” he continued, “We’re trying to work out how to get a photo of Richard to his granddaughter.”

Riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Flipping flucking arse.

“Oh right,” I say, with my Mobile Industry Review Head Switching On.

I had the article written in miliseconds. Old dude trying to use shite Sony Ericsson or Nokia handset to send picture. Bollcoks. Doesn’t work. Useless interface. That’s what I was thinking.

“What handset is he using?” I asked. I could see the one that I took as ‘Richard’ looking over expectantly, tiny rimmed glasses on the end of his nose.

“iPhone. It’s an iPhone isn’t it Richard?” the chap boomed across the aisle.

Ah hah.

GET IN.

A completely different editorial piece began to take shape in my mind as I stood up and headed to the rescue.

Richard, it turned out, was trying to send a picture of Sophie the dog. I kid you not. He’s got a dog called Sophie. To his granddaughter.

“I just got this last week,” he says thrusting the device at me as though it was some kind of brick.

“And how are you finding it?” I ask.

“Oh love it, love it. Very easy to use.”

Right then. What’s your problem sending shit then, I thought. It isn’t that difficult if you’ve taken a few minutes to learn how to use an iPhone.

“How do I actually SEND a photo? I get many from my granddaughters now,” he explains.

Ah.

Ok.

Er.

The same way you receive them. That’s what I was going to say.

But you know, keep it simple.

So I guided Richard and his ever-so-interested jolly-hocky-sticks chaps through the process of taking a photo and emailing it via the iPhone system. Piece of simplicity as you know.

I looked around and saw that the other four chaps were all bearing shite handsets. It was to be expected, I suppose.

But the fact that ONE 65+ chap HAS an iPhone… well that’s very interesting. He walked into an o2 store recently and fought with the salesperson to get him to sell him one.

“He tried to fob me off with some small thing,” Richard tells me as I tap away.

“Have you tried applications?” I ask him, “The App Store?”

A quick negative reaction prompts me to avoid going into that.

Ok. Right.

That’s it, there you go. All done. He’s happy, his chaps are jolly impressed. Granddaughter has got a photo of ‘Sophie’ waiting in her inbox. All is good.

Richard, clearly the adventurous one amongst his friends, then uttered the F word.

Facebook.

“So how would I put that on Facebook?” he asked.

“You could use the Facebook Application,” I responded, thinking about whether or not I should show him the App Store. That’s perhaps a bridge too far.

“Tell you what,” I said, “Let me configure your handset to transmit photos easily.”

I take the iPhone and tap away, bringing up the App Store, querying for ShoZu and download it. All in a few seconds whilst they’re nattering away about inclusive minutes.

ShoZu installs in moments and configures an automatic account right-away. No username and password arsing about. It does it all for you. Click, click.

“What’s your Facebook login?” I ask him.

A bit of umming and ahhing and Richard remembers. I login for him and configure everything.

And then I took 60 seconds and explained the joys of ShoZu. Of course, if the chap simply wants to email his granddaughter, that’s fine — use the built-in iPhone email-photo function. But if he wants more, and I sense he does, ShoZu is the way ahead.

I hand the handset back and ask him to take a demo photo and upload it.

Tap, tap, tap done. Love it. The old chaps are all mega impressed. I think I might have upsold at least two of them to get an iPhone. Richard has taken a lot of time to sit and explore many of the functions. For many of the retired classes, an iPhone might be the way ahead, the more I think about it. IF they’re as forward thinking and as open-minded as the likes of Richard. Most I encounter are a little scared of ‘technology’ and ‘gadgets’.

But this experience really surprised me. Surprised but delighted all the same.

So there you go.

One pensioner down. Maybe another 2 converted this week on the back of it. I wonder if I should run ShoZu education classes for the 65+ at the local pub? 😉

Have you met anyone over the age of 50 with an iPhone recently?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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