Where's The RSS-To-Fax Machine?

from the for-the-elderly dept

Practically since the general public started accessing the internet, companies have tried selling stripped-down internet-enabled devices designed to perform one single task. Most recently, we saw a specialized printer, marketed at grandparents that could receive and print out photographs sent to them over the web. By far the most common of these devices, however, seems to be the email device. The thinking goes that there are a lot of, again, grandparents, not connected to the internet, who no longer receive letters, because everyone else is now sending email. And it doesn't seem to matter how many times this has been tried, companies are trying it again. One new attempt looks exactly like every other failed device before it. It's a one-way street, for one thing, meaning the recipient of the letter won't be able to write back, and it requires specific hardware, as well as an ongoing subscription to service. Meanwhile, another company is trying to solve the back and forth communications problem by using fax technology as a bridge. So for $239 for the device, and another $139 per year in service fees, the elderly can use fax machines to communicate with email. This seems ridiculously expensive, particularly on the service side. And are fax machines really the best way to bring communications to those uncomfortable with technology? Perhaps the biggest problem for these offerings, however, is that they're trying to tap a shrinking market. The number of elderly people who don't have access to the internet will only decline over time. Instead of these narrowly focused with small markets, why not focus on the broader goal, of making computers and the internet easier to use?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Luv my fax, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 8:16am

    Way to get me excited!

    Man, I was so excited at the prospect of getting RSS feeds on my fax machine. It'd be just like those old stock tickers. Why I'd feel like a robber baron!

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Bill W, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 8:19am

    Internet appliances

    My folks had an iOpener, an internet appliance that did email and had a fairly capable browser. They were very happy with it but the machine wasn't well supported. It's too bad because they now have a Mac mini and it's giving them all sorts of heartaches. Mostly because my Dad doesn't have any idea at all what he's doing. At least with the iOpener all he had to do was turn it off and on to clear it out.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Dam, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 8:21am

    Fax Machine is Old School

    In the 80s it was rare to find many businesses that had faxes. By the 90s, they became commonplace. Now it seems, many sit in a corner collecting dust and fax Spam.

    (Kinda feel sorry for fax spammers. They're so out of it.)

    So, maybe giving grandma the old office machine isn't such a bad idea......

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Bum, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 8:47am

    Stand Alone Faxes are Old School

    "(Kinda feel sorry for fax spammers. They're so out of it.) "

    Faxes are still used in the business and legal worlds. They are not the 'old school' stand alone devices that took up valuable counterspace. Printing to a fax board on a server from any client is how a modern office works. Still get the spam but no ink is wasted.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 8:49am

    i know our multifunction printing centerhas faxes. no wasted space because our printer. copier, scanner and fax are the same device.

    i'm not sure how much fax spam we recieve, i'm not in the office all that much, but i know it's used.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 9:09am

    We use our fax 15-20 times a day, it's a standard in business to fax purchase orders, that way you get a signature and there's less chance of someone hitting the send button by accident and emailing an order before they should

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    PhysicsGuy, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 9:11am

    Re: Way to get me excited!

    funniest comment i've read today :)

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Jim Howard, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 10:10am

    email to fax

    If someone likes fax better than email, why get them a cheap fax machine and a MyFax or similar account?

    That way you can send them email that print out on their fax, and they can fax to a toll free number which will then go to an email account.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 10:28am

    I guess I don't understand why someone would have a preference for a fax. In the PO scenario described above, it is simpler for me to scan to email that document that requires my signature. It's likely to have better resolution and transfer more quickly. Plus, it arrives in my inbox with my other email - I don't need to also monitor a fax to see if anyone sent me anything.
    The only real reason I can see is for people (like grandparents) who are resistant to change. Which is fine. I can fax them from my desktop. I think the premise of the article is valid though - not a great long term business strategy.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 10:42am

    #9, are you that lazy? i mean, you'd have to get up from your desk to pick up the printout of the PO that was mailed to you

    most most po's go through several people first. i know i write up one, give it to a secretary, then then type it up, give it back to me for approvial, i then give it back to the secretary, who then forwards it to the manager for approiaal, then back to the secretary for sending out. when something comes it, it goes to my physical mailbox, along with all of my other mail. one stop. bam, i have it all. actually, the secretaries come to my office when new po's arive, making it even better for me. either way, fax or scan, it's still the same process.

    and no matter if yo uuse electronic or physical copies for backup...it doesn't hurt to have the other type as well, incase of say fire for pysical or server failure for electronic.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    leonore, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 10:46am

    Not my Grandma!

    If my grandmother were still alive, she'd have a computer and she'd be sending us email 24/7. She was telling us in the last years of her life about how our family's retail business would one day be selling to customers 'over the computer', and we had no idea what the hell she was talking about. RIP, Grandma. You were absolutely right.

     

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  12.  
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    incredulous, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    wow

    Worst Process Ever. Perhaps you could arrange to have a few more people touch that before you eventually get it. Additionaly, it appears you could fire your secratary and learn to use technology created sometime after the mid 70's. Don't worry - no one will force you to work smarter (it seems). continue to work harder all you want.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    incredulous, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    wow

    Worst Process Ever. Perhaps you could arrange to have a few more people touch that before you eventually get it. Additionaly, it appears you could fire your secratary and learn to use technology created sometime after the mid 70's. Don't worry - no one will force you to work smarter (it seems). continue to work harder all you want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    incredulous, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    wow

    Worst Process Ever. Perhaps you could arrange to have a few more people touch that before you eventually get it. Additionaly, it appears you could fire your secratary and learn to use technology created sometime after the mid 70's. Don't worry - no one will force you to work smarter (it seems). continue to work harder all you want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    incredulous, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 12:09pm

    wow

    Worst Process Ever. Perhaps you could arrange to have a few more people touch that before you eventually get it. Additionaly, it appears you could fire your secratary and learn to use technology created sometime after the mid 70's. Don't worry - no one will force you to work smarter (it seems). continue to work harder all you want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    JBz, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 1:30pm

    Secretary

    Well, #10. We know who does all the work in your office. I guess you get your exercise walking back and forth to your secretary.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Bum, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 2:29pm

    PO sounds like Office Space scene

    One of the Bobs asks, "What would you say you do here?" "I told you I'm a people person!

    Better example for faxing:
    Your dental claim requires a narrative for your four unit bridge. Your insurance company calls your dentist's office to request the information. They request a fax (more hipaa compliant than some email providors). The office administrator can go straight to the doctor's notes in the chart and print to fax.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Tyshaun, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 3:38pm

    cute idea.....

    I think, if anything, the only redeeming thing about this "fax-mail" is that it seems it would be great for handwritten correspondence, and maybe that would be it's niche. Instead of typing up an e-mail, just write it out longhand. That be the only advantage I can see for this technology and I think Joes comment about just making computers more accessible is the long term solution to their target use.

    However, I think they should be marketing this more to businesses that do a lot of paper handling (signatures and stuff). Perhaps law and medicine where a lot of things are hand written, but need to be disseminated quickly. Turning into an e-mail on the other side makes it very flexible. In fact, that's what my "fax machine" currently is. I have a fax card and all of my faxes come in as tiff files (or some other format of my choosing). I can either print them out or store them to disk, my choice.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2006 @ 5:41pm

    Re: #10

    Oh No! A Fire! Quick - to the Bat-Fax!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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