Your grandmother regularly listens to oldies music on a collection of cassette tapes using a Sony Walkman (vintage 1989). She appreciates the ability to take her music with her when she goes on walks. You are convinced that a newer music player, such as an iPod touch, would bring her into the current era, even though cassettes are making a comeback among the hip crowd. What features of the music player would you point out to her to help ease her concerns of “perceived usefulness” and “perceived ease of use”?

Some of the key factors in the adoption of new technology amongst users (consumers and businesses) is the ecosystem for that technology and the perceived value that the technology provides. These factors are related to the technology itself. Another factor, related to the user, is the learning curve to operate the technology so that it creates value over currently available tools. To convince my grandmother to use a newer music player I would have to convey the benefits of the tool but I will have to take these three factors into consideration.


The first factor, regarding the ecosystem for the technology, can be described as the environment, the necessary supporting technology, and availability of this supporting technology for the player. The tape player already had an established ecosystem, there were tapes being widely manufactured and distributed, vehicles had tape players in them, and storage for multimedia was designed around tape players. Since the compact disc began to come in to use, the availability of tape players slowly declined. There were no longer cars made with tape players in them, converters were made so that consumers with CD players could use an auxiliary cable to make the newer technology compatible with the old. Warranties are no longer supporting the repair and replacement of tape players so it is hard to maintain them. This will make convincing my grandmother easier since there aren’t many places left in today’s world where her tapes will work other than her Walkman.


Technology should provide some value over what is currently available to be adopted usually. Tape players were compact and portable at the time of their conception. They could typically hold about an hour worth of music or the equivalent of about 56 kilobytes. Today’s modern music players, in the form of MP3 or other digital audio format, can hold nearly 128 gigabytes almost 2 million times more. This could equate to almost a whole year’s worth of hits that grandma loves. She also doesn’t have to worry about switching tapes out and rewinding songs. Finally, she can access streaming music, where the music is in the cloud which grants her virtually unlimited access to almost any song she wants at any time.


Finally, I would have to consider the learning curve for grandma. The Walkman was a very simple device compared to the music players today. With mechanical buttons it was easy to just press play, rewind, fast forward, stop. Now she has to deal with a digital dashboard, connecting to a network, possibly Bluetooth, etc. Luckily, companies have made an effort to improve usability, in fact it has become its own function within most technology companies, a mix between the study of human behavior, industrial design and art. This would make the transition for grandma easier between her Walkman and today’s modern music players.


Knowledge at Wharton. (2016, February 3). Why the Best Technology Isn’t Always the Winner. Retrieved from Knowledge at Wharton.