The name “ePad Femme” is evocative of all sorts of imagery. Just last week, during Creative Lab time, the Fashioning Circuits students and I were imagining a menstrual pad that would alert you when it needed to be changed. However, “ePad Femme” refers to a tablet device from The EuroStar Group that is being marketed as “the world’s first tablet aimed exclusively at women,” I have to insert an exasperated sigh here. I could point you to other posts where I’ve addressed similar issues: “Whose Idea of Bliss?” that addresses the HTC Bliss phone that was designed for women, or “Droid’s Hypermasculine advertising” in which I analyze the Droid commercial that pits femininity and technological prowess against one another. But let’s dig a little deeper.
Radu Iorga writes “for some reason I feel that the device may seem a bit of a cliche.” He’s not wrong. There are, in fact, multiple reasons that the device seems clichéd. An interesting note in this piece by Linda Gradstein for The Jerusalem Post is her interview with Eman Al Nafjan, a feminist blogger, whom Gradstein cites as saying that “women in the Gulf are computer-literate and can access their own applications. She says that in Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive or travel without a male relative, women spend a lot of time on-line.”
Perhaps EuroStar are attempting to attract the less-computer literate. Even so, good user interaction and an appealing design in an array of colors will go further than apps lumped together by essentialist gender stereotypes. According to the EuroStar Group .pdf tablet brochure, the Femme comes in “multiple colors.” I suppose it is a small victory that it doesn’t just come in pink. However, if the company is going to market tablets pre-bundled with apps according to interest (such as their “Gamer” tablet), why not have a “Fitness Tablet” and a “Fashion tablet”? Of course, one would hope that all of these, including the Gamer Tablet, would come in pink in addition to other colors. Or even better, why not have one really great tablet with separate app bundles that one could buy?
The recent blog posts on the ePad Femme Tablet did prompt me to wonder about the demographics of tablet users. Salon reports anywhere from 34% to 47% female tablet usage, with iPads having more heavily male user bases than Android tablets or the Kindle Fire. Tablet2Cases breaks down gender divisions by country in Europe and the U.S.:
ComScore places tablet ownership at 50/50 male to female, with certain devices like the Kindle Fire having a user base that is as high as 56% female. It seems as though there is already a pretty healthy female tablet user base, which makes the ePad model even more puzzling. My guess is that the Femme will go the way of the HTC Bliss, which was eventually re-branded as the HTC Rhyme, without all the “especially for ladies” nonsense.