Older Americans Embrace New Technology, Even If They Struggle To Admit It

The technology habits of America’s Baby Boomers have gained a lot of attention, but much of the literature focuses on what they do and not why they do it. The recent Pew Research 1 study confirmed that older Americans have warmly embraced the Internet, social networking and especially email. The insight missing, until now, is how companies should position themselves to attract this growing group to their products and services.

Research by Perion Network Ltd. (NASDAQ: PERI), a developer of software tailored for 40+ Second Wave Adopters (SWAs) of technology, shows that older Americans have a cautious approach to technology but they still embrace it. Rather than engaging with technology because it is new or exciting, they base their technology decisions on the practical impact it will have on their lives. Though 88.5% of the Americans over 45 surveyed consider themselves slow to adopt technology, 84.8% adopt a new technology when it fits their current lifestyle, 89% will use new technology if it’s better than what they use today, and 79.2% find technology fun and enjoy new gadgets. By comparison, Internet penetration in the US is only 78.3% according to the International Telecommunications Union. 2

The results from February 2012 focus on the 2,963 American respondents who are users of Perion’s IncrediMail email client and over 45 years of age. Thirty-seven percent of respondents were male and 14% were between 45 and 54 with the remainder over 55. Using a widely recognized classification question, 3 only 11% of respondents were classified as “Early Adopters,” leaving 89% as “Second Wave Adopters.”

The large sample size enabled the study to delve further into the sub-groups of older technology users and their psychological profiles than most previously published research studies.

Key to understanding the segment is the recognition that SWAs over 45 do not fear technology, but they need to be a little more convinced to use it than others. Surprisingly, 76% said that technology was fun; not a term usually associated with technology amongst SWAs.

Technology usage was not seen as incompatible with friends even amongst older SWAs. Only 50% of respondents felt that greater usage of technology has hurt social interactions, and 89% said that they were good at keeping in touch with friends. Large numbers of SWAs have embraced established technologies with 68% using Facebook (according to the International Telecommunications Union, US Facebook penetration was 50.3% as of December 31, 2011) and 30% using Skype.

While tablet penetration is still most common amongst Early Adopters, it is clear that SWAs have begun to embrace the devices. As more SWAs become convinced that tablets will enhance their current lifestyles, the tipping point will be reached for adoption amongst this group. As they embrace tablets, they will seek services and products that cater to their particular needs.

“Tablets are easy to use and functional, so Boomers, who are traditionally later adopters of technology, are amongst the early users,” according to Adam Goodvach, Director of Customer Insights.

The quick penetration of tablets among Americans 45+ who are Second Wave Adopters provides an important lesson for consumer technology companies. They are willing to embrace technology if presented with a compelling reason that speaks to their particular circumstances. With over 120 million Americans over 45 years old, consumer technology companies need to reach out and penetrate this market to ensure their own profitability.

Goodvach continued, “Understanding the psychological drivers of these 120 million potential consumer technology users will be key to ensuring uptake for technology companies. If it is pitched the right way, new products and services will be enthusiastically embraced. Keep it fun, simple and supportive of existing lifestyles, and boomers will give it a go.”

About Perion Network Ltd.

Perion Network Ltd. (NASDAQ: PERI), a digital media company, helps improve the everyday digital lives of 'second-wave adopters' by delivering a growing portfolio of easy-to-use applications for accomplishing popular activities. Perion focuses upon the almost 300 million consumers and under-served ‘second-wave adopters,' those who wait to adopt technology and want products that connect them with friends and family, enhance their online experiences, and offer safe and easy to use solutions. The Company targets three billion dollar market verticals: 1) communications, 2) photos and 3) online security. With 120M+ downloads and 13.3M installed base, products include: IncrediMail, an award-winning email application, Smilebox, a photo sharing and social expression product, PhotoJoy, a photo discovery and sharing screensaver and wallpaper product, and Fixie, a PC optimization product. Perion offers and develops a range of iPhone and iPad products to answer the increasing mobile demands of ‘second-wave adopters.' These include a photo email application, Smilebox application with over 500,000 downloads and Photojoy application, all available for download in the Apple App Store. For more information on Perion (NASDAQ: PERI), visit www.perion.com.

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1 http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Older-adults-and-internet-use.aspx 2 http://www.internetworldstats.com/america.htm 3 Do you purchase technology a) before most people you know, b) after some people you know, c) after most people you know, d) after just about everyone you know.

Source: Perion Network Ltd.

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