My Grandpa's Killer App

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Everyone has a killer app that switches on the light bulb for why they need the Internet. Over the weekend I learned what that was for my grandpa on my mom's side.

While visiting my aunt and uncle out in Portland, our conversation turned to my uncle's work teaching computer skills to the elderly. In discussing the challenges he faces helping older people understand how a computer works, he recounted the story of how his folks first got hooked up to the Internet.

For years they, and especially my grandpa, resisted, citing the fact they didn't see a compelling reason for paying for a service they weren't likely to use.

Eventually, my uncle got fed up and on a visit ordered a month's worth of DSL and got them set up and online. He didn't ask their permission, he just did it as a gift.

As my uncle tells the story, my grandparents' Depression-era instincts kicked in, forcing them to at least try using the Internet lest the money being paid for the service be wasted.

During this month my grandpa's biennial trip to his local Buick dealer to trade in his car for a new one came up. Only this time instead of just heading over, he did something a little different: he went online first to see what else was out there.

After a bit of searching, he discovered the exact car he was intending to buy down the road in North Carolina for $2000 less in Minnesota, and he just so happened to be headed up their to visit my mom and dad making it feasible for him to consider changing his pattern to purchase a car elsewhere.

But first he took this information down the road and presented it to his regular dealership. And he got the deal he was looking for.

Using the Internet meant saving him $2000, and there's nothing he loves more than a bargain.

Now both my grandparents have email addresses, they both use the Internet to find information about hobbies and current events, and it's fast become an important part of their lives.

Why? Because my grandpa found his killer app: saving money through researching purchases online.

So to anyone who says older people won't use the Internet, I say all you need to do is help them find their killer app and their eyes will be opened, their concerns will be mitigated, and their imagination will be sparked by the limitless possibilities of being online.

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That's a great way to look at it. I've been working on some blogging adoption issues where similar case studies make all the difference. Once they see hard dollar benefits, they're sold.

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This page contains a single entry by Geoff Daily published on July 22, 2008 8:35 AM.

My Speech to NARUC on Wireless Broadband was the previous entry in this blog.

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