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Why Young Males Are No Longer the Most Important Tech Demographic 240

Posted by Soulskill
from the too-easily-distracted dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Atlantic has an article discussing how 18- to 35-year-old males are losing their place as the most important demographic for tech adoption. 'Let me break out the categories where women are leading tech adoption: internet usage, mobile phone voice usage, mobile phone location-based services, text messaging, Skype, every social networking site aside from LinkedIn, all Internet-enabled devices, e-readers, health-care devices, and GPS. Also, because women still are the primary caretakers of children in many places, guess who controls which gadgets the young male and female members of the family get to purchase or even use?' The article points out that most of the tech industry hasn't figured this out yet — perhaps in part to a dearth of women running these companies."
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Why Young Males Are No Longer the Most Important Tech Demographic

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  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:39PM (#40263609)

    "Internet usage, mobile phone voice usage, mobile phone location-based services, text messaging, Skype, every social networking site aside from LinkedIn, all Internet-enabled devices, e-readers, health-care devices, and GPS." --- Most of these things all revolve around communicating with others. Daughters used to spend all their time talking on the phone (watch an old episode of Gidget for an example). Now it's texting on internet devices.

    Healthcare makes sense, since it's usually the mom that deals with sick kids. Ditto GPS/location services since they are driving the kids around. And e-readers are handy to use while waiting for the kids to finish with their doctor appointments or soccer games.

    I draw the line at buying some minivan or SUV though.
    I like my car.

    • by slazzy (864185) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:59PM (#40263815) Homepage
      It will be interesting to see how this changes in the next few years.
    • Definately! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:03PM (#40263861)

      It's a proven scientific fact that men who drive minivans spontaneously grow a vagina.

    • by epyT-R (613989) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:18PM (#40264005)

      ...or that women need more healthcare and devices to compensate for less ability to deal with the environment around them. The implication being that men don't need as much healthcare, or that they're better able to find their way without a moronic computer telling them what to do. See I can speculate too. If gossip is going to fuel internet growth, all of us should just quit using it now.. gossip is among the most toxic of fallout from human evolution to date.

      • by samoanbiscuit (1273176) on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:45PM (#40264685)

        If gossip is going to fuel internet growth, all of us should just quit using it now.. gossip is among the most toxic of fallout from human evolution to date.

        Actually, that's not true. Gossip has been studies by a lot of fields (especially psychology) and is considered a useful way of communicating social mores and building alliances. Basically people who were once considered "non-technical" or whatever are using the internet as extensions of themselves more than ever, which is a good thing IMHO.

        • by epyT-R (613989) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:13PM (#40264875)

          Yes, but unfortunately the basis is flawed. argumentum ad populum - everyone is saying this, therefore it must be true/you must comply. Building alliances on such fallacious reasoning is probably one of the primal causes of conflict and mass social failure.

          Yeah it would be great, except that instead of extending themselves to what was built (by 'geeks'), they want/are getting it dumbed down to their level by force of ubiquity and/or profit motive.. This is an example of why some think the movie Idiocracy should be considered a piece of speculative fiction.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:20PM (#40264019)

      Most of these things all revolve around communicating with others. Daughters used to spend all their time talking on the phone (watch an old episode of Gidget for an example). Now it's texting on internet devices.

      The internet has always been a communications technology, and women tend to communicate more in both frequency and diversity of content. But it's a leap to say that means women are more important. A lot of internet traffic is streaming media and bittorrent. Does that mean those are the first things people think of when you mention the internet? Probably not. Quantity doesn't always equate to importance.

      Conversely, men aged 18-35 have never been social movers and shakers; They're the grunts. Always have been. It's never been any different in IT than anywhere else... that age group is always used for something new and experimental because they're disposable. If young men throw away their lives in war, poor career choices, or develop work-related injuries, etc., we just give them a line about how honorable their sacrifice was and then lead them away from the public spotlight.

      I guess my point is that studies like this offer neither wisdom nor insight; The conclusions drawn invariably reflect our own prejudices. And they will continue to do so until the social expectations of men and women, young and old, etc., are equal.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:15AM (#40266983)

        "Also, because women still are the primary caretakers of children in many places, guess who controls which gadgets the young male and female members of the family get to purchase or even use?"

        "The article points out that most of the tech industry hasn't figured this out yet â" perhaps in part to a dearth of women running these companies."

        Perhaps it's nothing to do with the industry figuring it out, but that in most relationships the couple have made the concious decision for the woman to be the homemaker, meaning that person is the one who can only make themselves available to work shorter hours.

        Seriously, it's the same old tiresome story, you get a feminist whine about how there aren't enough women CEOs etc. but the fact is that's because a sizeable portion of female staff are also the ones that want to knock off early to look after the kids etc. They just can't simply expect to have a flying career AND get to leave early/have every school holiday off/work part time or whatever as well. You just can't have people in important positions in the company who aren't there half the time, it's just not going to work.

        Equality has to be a two way thing, and will only arise from becoming a two way thing. I don't think I've ever met a man ever in my entire life that would not give someone a job "because she's female" contrary to the feminist rants suggesting there's some conspiracy where exactly that is the case. What needs to happen for a greater balance of women in higher positions, is that a more balance ratio of men and women are the homemakers, rather than the gross slant towards women in the moment eliminating a massive proportion of the female working base as potential candidates for high up roles.

        Me and my girlfriend aren't really bothered about having kids, and as a result she can work as long as she wants, and her career has flown along as a result, she puts in the hours of any man and has never seen anything that amounts to discrimination.

        Honestly, I've seen far far more problems in terms of ageism (both ways - i.e you're too young, as well as just you're too old) and homophobia than the zero instances of sex discrimination I've seen and heard about within any companies I've worked at. Time and effort needs to be spent solving those issues more than anything else.

        Maybe I've just been fortunate and everywhere I've worked has been good in terms of sex discrimination, though I doubt it, because I worked in public sector for years which was frankly the most homophobic, racist, ageist place I've ever worked, but sexism was never an issue, because if anything there were more female managers than male there for the most part. The places I've worked since have a roughly equal balance of male/female employees, and whilst I agree one female I work with currently is good enough to be deserving of more responsibility and more pay, I should note that there's also about 4 men in the same boat too so it would be hard to say she's being explicitly discriminated against, the problem is simply that they're all ready to move up and there are no positions for them currently.

        If women want careers equivalent to their male counterparts they need to choose between having kids, or making sure they're in a two way relationship where they're equally allowed the opportunity to grow their career and not be the homemaker.

        I agree with what you say, the article is really just a "I'm hard done by boo-fucking-hoo" type rant and offers nothing to the debate. If it was just an actual factual study about the usage of technology by different demographics and a historical comparison of how that's changed it might be of value, but no, it was nothing more than a pointless rant devoid of any meaningful facts and figures to back up it's argument.

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:31PM (#40264133)

      Ditto GPS/location services since they are driving the kids around.

      I think you meant to say "because men never get lost."

    • They are also missing a VERY important point which is why going after the male is still a better strategy...brand loyalty. Frankly we men get set in our ways easily and if we find something we like we tend to stick with it. women on the other hand have ZERO brand loyalty when it comes to tech, to them its an accessory like clothes or shoes and like clothes and shoes their tastes change and out goes the device.

      For example my GF has to have gone through a good 4 phones in the past two years, she'll drop it or bust it or she doesn't like the way it texts or something and its gone...poof! Buh bye phone and i honestly don't think she has EVER bought the same brand twice when it comes to tech, its whatever one of her girlfriends recommend or what catches her eye. i tend to stick with HTC as they've never given me any problems so when one dies i get another HTC so if you get me liking your brand I'll tend to stick with it.

      So if all you want is a single sale then sure, it might be smart to target the women. but if you want a long term customer its smarter to target the men as we have more brand loyalty, at least from what I've seen.

  • Adoption, not use. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:39PM (#40263617) Journal

    The young male demographic has already adopted tech, so adoption will be low. New technology will be targeted at people who haven't adopted tech yet, because those markets aren't as saturated and competetive. It was bound to happen in a maturing industry. Young males still use more tech then females though.

  • Evident right here (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:43PM (#40263657)
    This is most evident on places like Slashdot, which are dominated by young males 18-35. From OSX to iOS to Windows 8 to Office 2010 and the Ribbon to the iPad to the iPhone to locked bootloaders on Android to custom Android skins (Sense etc.), almost every decision in mainstream tech is cast as "boneheaded" or "backwards" here. Yet almost everything Slashdot has a problem with, the general population eats it up.
    • by spire3661 (1038968) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:46PM (#40263693) Journal
      If everyone eats it up, then obviously there is no problem? Fantastic logic! Do you have a newsletter?
      • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:49PM (#40263713)
        Problems are relative. The problems we come up with here obviously mean nothing to the majority of tech buyers out there. Is it a problem for me that I can only install Apps from the Appstore on my iPad? Yes. Is it a problem for my mom? No. It doesn't make the complaints we have not legitimate... it just means it's less and less likely anyone is going to care.
    • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday June 08, 2012 @06:52PM (#40263735)
      Has there really been a survey to determine the ages and sexes of Slashdot users or do you all just assume everybody is young and male?
    • Er... don't agree (Score:4, Insightful)

      by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:04PM (#40263875) Homepage

      I have never met a member of the general population that liked the office ribbon. It confuses the hell out of my wife - which is a giant pain since it also confuses the hell out of me, who is usually her tech support. This results in routine 5-10 minute "find the option" sessions where we search for what used to be obvious. I predict a very similar reaction to Windows 8, just like Windows 7 confused the heck out of my wife and mom.

      The whole problem with these UX designers is they forget that it is 2012 and EVERYONE ALREADY KNOWS HOW TO USE COMPUTERS, starting from 8 years old on!

      It doesn't matter if something is "easy to use for a novice" to computers when there are no novices remaining on the planet. It is much more important to KEEP CHANGE TO A MINIMUM. People in general do not deal well with change in something they are used to. Anyone who has assisted in an office-wide rollout of a new software program will attest to this.

      • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:23PM (#40264551)
        Anyone who has assisted in an office-wide rollout of a new software program will not be working on UI design

        FTFY

        • Yep - it would be a real shame to let the people who know the most about the everyday support-ability problems with software to be helping with the interfaces. Nope - much better to leave it to self-righteous UX "experts".

          • by jmerlin (1010641) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @05:42AM (#40267059)
            The problem is that "UX" has lost its original meaning. It now refers to artists. A person who designs the horribly unusable "user interfaces" you see in movies would pass as a "UX" designer these days. Art and aesthetic design is NOT in any way related to user experience. Google recently demonstrated this to us in a really huge way (gmail). Microsoft is doing it in many ways in W8 and did so with Ribbon.

            It's about time to fire all of these artists ruining software and get some real UX engineers.
      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:29PM (#40264581) Journal
        Obigatory car analogy; I've been driving on public roads for 35yrs, I backed a freinds car out of the driveway the other day and then sat there for a good five minutes trying to work out why the car wouldn't let go of the key after I turned it off.

        Cars, like computers, used to have a very simple interface and it was common for non-mechanics to do their own repairs because you could open any bonnet and point to the caby, the distributor, the coil, etc, under the bonnet of my current car there is a large black plastic cover with holes where you put the oil and water, taking the cover off doesn't help much. Sure old cars/computers make me go all misty eyed with nostalgia for their 'simplicity', but lets face it, they were unreliable crap compared to what is available today.
    • by tsotha (720379) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:56PM (#40265185)
      I seriously doubt slashdot is dominated by men 18-35. Men, yes, but I think the age bracket is much higher than that.
    • by epyT-R (613989) on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:57PM (#40265505)

      This doesn't mean the slashdot population is wrong. The question you should be asking is "important to whom and why?" Technically incompetent consumers are more dependent and thus more profitable to companies. This article sources someone who probably has political motivations for saying the things she said, as well as being motivated by her employer (intel). In the end, the slashdot crowd is much more in line with the interests of these consumers than those who want to bilk money from them. the latter love seeing fluff articles like this.

  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:01PM (#40263827)

    So all the things I really don't care much about. They can have them. I'd dispute the internet thing (by bandwidth I suspect guys win what with gaming and porn). But otherwise: location based apps? I see it more as a privacy risk for little benefit, FB and other narcissistic tools: no use and I really don't care what my cousin's friend found funny so can't be bothered with other people's personal BS.

    Also of tech demographic means relatively simple to use "chatty" services than girls might win. How about hard (for mainstream user) tech adoption? Setting up a home server, remote backup, dual booting systems etc.?

  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:01PM (#40263833)
    Slackers all! With no draft, manual labor out of fashion, Ritalin, and most physical activities in decline, young men have turned into slackers. I've seen it coming ever since 1985. For those of you who don't know -- http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=slacker [urbandictionary.com] and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ndJNXCkNxg [youtube.com] . Hell, most are not even getting laid! Women are taking over. When they do, they will have to deal with a nation half-full of slackers. Be careful what you wish for.
    • by couchslug (175151) on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:32PM (#40264599)

      Conscription didn't instil anything in recent decades but resistance to conscription and desire to GTFO the military. The Hollow Force era demonstrated that thoroughly and well. I served during the Reagan recovery and

      Manual labor sucks unless its for yourself or you get well paid for it. The cult of working yourself do exhaustion so you can get shitcanned next time FuckyouCorp right-sizes its workforce understandably went away.

      There is no point in work without reward.

      The elites don't give a fuck, the poor get government monies, so why should they want to carry everyone else and be chumps?

      I get the "slackers" point. Martyrdom is a virtue in others.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:17PM (#40265301)

      When they do, they will have to deal with a nation half-full of slackers. Be careful what you wish for.

      Everyone here will tell you that women have been calling men lazy since [poster's year of birth].

  • by Shavano (2541114) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:01PM (#40263837)
    Does anybody really think that Apple doesn't know their market? Does anybody think Google and Amazon and Facebook don't know what users want? Just because the heads of these companies are male doesn't mean they don't know how to women.
  • by hackstraw (262471) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:23PM (#40264043)

    news at 12

  • Drivel (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pkinetics (549289) on Friday June 08, 2012 @07:38PM (#40264203)

    This is basic diffusion model of business. Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards.

    Here's what I recall with the adoption trend of mobile device consumption.

    It started with the geeks, and then the guys.

    Then teenagers adopted it. Holy buckets, text messaging went through the roof.

    Smart devices came out. Mostly geeks, guys and the group of teenagers. Parents were still playing catch up to why their child sent 2000 text messages and now they owed $1k to the cell phone company.

    Social media explodes onto the seen. The teenagers are growing up. They are consuming and in turn demanding more enhancements. Companies are responding because they need to keep adding adopters.

    Social media became a status symbol. Note: I did not say cool. Cool is attitude, not imaginary friends, followers, tweets, etc. Cool is measured in binary, yes or no. There is no magical calculation that establishes cool. No amount of bling makes someone cool. You are either Fonzy or Richie. Analogy stolen from Dennis Miller.

    Now there are apps, web and mobile, for all social sharing for everyone. It is going from saturation to supersatured as the industry tries to secure all the late adopters.

    The next innovation is coming.

    Rinse repeat recycle.

  • by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot AT keirstead DOT org> on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:11PM (#40264481) Homepage

    For every 10 women who buy a GPS, or a phone, or a Kindle - there is a trusted geek they asked for advice before they bought it.

    And those geeks are usually male.

    Just because the overall market penetration skews toward women doesn't make them the influencers.

  • by Presto Vivace (882157) <marshall@prestovivace.biz> on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:29PM (#40264585) Homepage Journal
    made the same point in his book Micro Trends. [blogspot.com]
  • by skine (1524819) on Friday June 08, 2012 @08:44PM (#40264681)

    I don't know if I really agree with calling any one segment of the population the "most important demographic" in any industry.

    Rather, it might be more accurate to say that technology has expanded beyond the hobbyist level to near ubiquity.

    Just look at the number of people today who call their mp3 players iPods or smart phones iPhones, and I'll tell you about my mother who said I played too much Nintendo as kid - despite the fact that I didn't own a Nintendo system until I was in my 20's.

  • No surprise.

    Skype, voice, social networks: This is just a continuation of the millennia-old girl network, now happening over the electronic network. As a heterosexual male, I want to be talked *about* on that network (whether it be on or offline), but not actually be there.

    Health: I'm a guy! I go for years without seeing a doctor.

    E-reader: Most paperback pulp at the supermarket is aimed at women; now it's on devices. Inevitable.

    GPS: Ask for directions? No way, I know where we are. I'm a guy! Furthermore, I don't care that it's a creepy area and it's getting dark.

  • by goldcd (587052) on Friday June 08, 2012 @09:52PM (#40265163) Homepage
    most of those technologies are old/established and a great deal of money is being made selling those to the mass-market - and I'm quite willing to admit whilst as a "dink-y" 35-year old male I'm important to, but not the sole focus of the vendors. My ilk will not decide the market success of particular 'products'.
    Damned if I'm not going to fight the imputation that I'm not responsible for the success of the underlying 'tech' though.
    GPS - I was wearing the Casio GPS watch, I was dangling a GPS MMC out of my PocketPC (plus external magnetic aerial) when the luddites thought mobiles had to have buttons. Now I'm quite prepared to admit there was a lot of swearing, wasted money and bluntly it wasn't due to necessity but rather it clearly being the cool-as-fuck-future - and that's ignoring the pile of dead-end tech that was accumulated in parallel - but I really resent this slur.
    I'll restrain myself from listing everything else - but there is absolutely no piece of 'tech' that hasn't been launched on the sci-fi-tinged dreams of a 20-something-year old male with slightly too much disposable income.
    I perhaps do consider in these later years, that it wasn't 'me' but the age/ideal - I still steadfastly hold to the opinion that twitter is pointless - despite the bleatings of the youth below me and the easily-lead marketing execs above.
  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Friday June 08, 2012 @10:35PM (#40265409)
    because we're broke. Seriously. 40 years of no wage increases kinda does that to a guy.
  • by bornagainpenguin (1209106) on Saturday June 09, 2012 @01:24AM (#40266319)
    Oh, look! It's this article again...

    Sure, tell me about how men are failing at everything again and how women everywhere are coming to fix things for us useless cretins who only invented it all...

    Tell me again about how worthless men are and how perfect and truly in control of everything women are...

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