Million Dollar Idea

I like to come up with ideas. Cool ideas,bad ideas. Perhaps million dollar ideas. Why would I share a potential million dollar idea with the world? Because ideas by themselves are just that – ideas. They have the potential to create value. But are worthless without proper execution.

Potential Million dollar idea: A truly simple computer with no learning curve.

The idea evolved from a simple Internet browser for senior citizens to use without frustration. I then realized that the problem was not the browser. The problem was the entire computer experience. It needs to be more simple. To build such a simple computer would be to start from the ground up. I’ve learned from Jonathan Ive that simplicity is not the absence of clutter. It’s at the heart of every product – the purpose itself. Simplicity is at the core of every purpose.

Why do we assume that simple is good? Because with physical products, we have to feel we can dominate them. As you bring order to complexity, you find a way to make the product defer to you. Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. For example, to have no screws on something, you can end up having a product that is so convoluted and so complex. The better way is to go deeper with the simplicity, to understand everything about it and how it’s manufactured. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.

~ Jonathan Ive (from the book, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson)

Computers are ubiquitous. Even senior citizens are getting into the technology craze. But most if not all are frustrated navigating the complex tools of todays’ computers. Most have a hard time grasping tech lingo like taskbar or browser. Turning off the computer is a battle. Explaining updates is a hassle. And they don’t have the patience or time to learn.

“It’s so hard to do. But at least I’ve stopped crying,”

~ Roz Carlin, 92

(first time using a computer)

Seniors only use the computer to accomplish a few tasks. Everything else is superfluous. So what exactly are they doing online?

The average elderly person would use less then 5% of the programs on my macbook pro. Most desktops and laptops today don’t fit the simple needs for casual users. A focus on the core and what these users really need is key.

People use a computer to accomplish a task. Don’t think email, Facebook and QVC. Remember simplicity. Think to contact people, stay connected with family and friends and to buy things. At its core, such a computer must allow its users to accomplish these tasks. (and maybe some other tasks)  I don’t care how my computer sends email or connects to wifi, I just want it to do it.

(Who cares? I just want to get on the Internet)

By only focusing on what’s necessary and cut out the unnecessary garbage, such a computer would be cheaper and faster to make. Simplicity is not simple. But it can be done.

(I want to end this experience!)

The elderly has been the focus group the entire time. But why stop there? Young children, light users and schools could all benefit from this computer.

This is just an idea. A truly simple computer with no learning curve. Worthless unless acted upon. I will be acting upon this idea. Who knows. A million dollars later I will look back at this post and smile.


6 thoughts on “Million Dollar Idea

  1. Your Idea is workable! But – why are you stealing its thunder by saying “with no learning curve”? I would reconsider this phrase to rather represent the actual strength/cause behind the idea which as per my understanding is – a) Senior citizens / children who are “light/casual” users get a platform to use a computer capable of only doing basic tasks (Ref made to: “The average elderly person would use less then 5% of the programs on my macbook pro”) b) Such computers/devices will be more affordable and thus available to this segment (considering you dont need to spend $1k to 1.5k on a mac book pro). Hope this makes sense? – thanks for sharing and all the best!!!

  2. Thanks for the feedback Ain! You make a lot of sense and have a very good point. I want to make the computer simple and easy enough for Senior citizens and young children to use but at the same time I don’t want to exclude other users and limit the user in any way.

    I’m doing a more detailed write up based on all of the feedback and comments I have received and would love to hear your thoughts on my next post. Have a great weekend!

    ~ Imtiaz Majeed

  3. I think it would be a good idea to integrate the idea of a simplified computer with existing technologies. For example, a new UI on top of Windows or Mac OS would allow developers to cater to the simplified computer without having to transition to new tech — it would make the platform more extendable too.

    With that idea too, if a user is beginning to grow up (if we’re dealing with young children) or if a feature isn’t available that is absolutely crucial to the user, regular applications designed for the “normal” market could be used too.

    Overall, it’s a great idea.

  4. The JoliCloud Desktop/OS project seems to be close to the sort of experience you are aiming for: It offers a highly centralized location to launch apps and ability to accomplish most tasks of the average senior, or child. If you take a look at the direction of Windows 8 in the operating system front and its accompanying Metro User Interface, you may notice that a lot is being done to reduce the amount of time the user needs to interact with their device while simultaneously increasing information availability. With this in mind, the direction for a simpler and more streamlined OS experience is on the horizon. Unfortunately, basic computing concepts are not instinctive for a first time computer user. There will always be a learning curve for anything. The angle of the curve may be on the decline as the technology saturated world matures and becomes evermore optimized.

  5. Pingback: A Truly Simple User Interface: Simplified For Seniors « Imtiaz Majeed

  6. tl dr;
    There’s no such thing as “a million dollar idea”. Here’s the proof – Try selling one.

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