Wednesday, July 29, 2009

What I Did Over My Summer Vacation: An iTouch Love Story

I just returned from twelve stormy and rainy days in Northern Michigan and it was unique in two respects. First it was my first time to the Upper Peninsula (e.g. rain), but also the first time that I have travelled with such as powerful mobile media device, my personal iTouch. (iTouch = iPhone – phone)

I have had the iTouch for about two weeks prior to the vacation and downloaded a number of applications, loaded a bunch of music, connected my Gmail account and downloaded a couple of videos for me, my wife and our two children (age 7 & 3). I knew that we were going to be on two long airplane trips and at least four long car trips (3+ hours) and so wanted to have something to fall back on for everyone during the lulls.

The summer vacation was all the more mobile media intense because of all of the rain. My son ran through his pile of books pretty quickly and my daughter is easily bored by sitting one place. It should be known that Sam and Lily had never seen or used an iTouch or iPhone before

There were a couple of observations:

  • My children instantly fell in love with the iTouch; partially because it was new, but also because it brought instant joy and they intuitively understood the interface – they had no trouble in navigating to and using applications.
  • There is a striking lack of applications of any merit for young children, and absolutely none from PBS Kids or Sesame Street, though Sesame Street has a very fun podcast. (Apparently PBS is in development on several iPhone apps, the first is launching is Curious George and then 3-4 more before the end of the calendar year.) Most kids apps are for either the very young (<3>
  • • The audio books were a big hit and there are hundreds and hundreds to choose from. (It was very cute, my two children sharing the headsets.)
  • There were a number of great movies, and renting them seemed reasonable. ($0.99 to $3.99, need to watch within 30 days from renting, and after starting have 24 hours to watch the movie)
  • The small screen is very immersive for a child, especially as they sit in a car seat…the picture is bright and clear, the sound high quality.
  • My children really liked to watch the video and listen to the audio books, but they were very much entranced by the interactive applications. These were the things the loved to use…making things happen with a shake here or a poke there.
The device was so easy to use and portable. The content bought or rented was good, if not great, but I felt that there was a big gap for high quality kids content on the iPhone, especially applications. While the iPhone or iTouch is expensive (+$200), it is a device that is easily handed over the back of a seat and is such as solid-seeming device that I had no worries, like I have with other technology.

The professional implication for me was that this is something that is a good space for more active development and a strong marketing campaign for our tech-savvy parents.

1 comment:

Devon said...

Interesting in light of this Chi SunTimes article today: 1 in 4 children 8-11yr has a cell phone. Almost 2 in 3 kids 12-14yrs has one. Or the Mashable post yesterday on Facebook's integration with DSI. As devices for cellular and gaming collapse, there seems to be a lot of opportunity for kids to connect and engage.