Do Older People Really Need Separate Internet Sites?

Building specialized websites and services for the older crowd has been popular lately. First we had Eons, the social network for people over 50. Founder Jeff Taylor is too young, at 45, to use his own site. Perhaps being out of touch with his target demographic has been what’s led Eons to mediocrity (Alexa, Compete) since launch. Next we had Presto, a combination printer (made by HP) and web service that basically faxes emails to loved ones who don’t have computers. Older people are featured prominently in its marketing materials.

the parent company of Eons has announced cRANKy, a search engine for people over 50 that compliments their Eons social network. The site indexes about 5,000 sites that says are popular with people over 45, and focuses on less results because “the Eons Generation doesn’t like to wade through millions of search results.”

I frankly don’t think any of these products will be successful. Not because the demographic they’re targeting isn’t large, but rather because these people are quite Internet savvy already and don’t need hand-holding and condescension. In the case of cRANKy, if less results is appealing to older people, the same would be the case for everyone. People like relevant results and lots of them. And if your search engine isn’t very deep, it’s a flaw, not a feature.