Monday, August 3, 2009

Digital Toys On The Beach

Posted on August 2nd, 2009 by Judi Cutrone on

Last week, I was at the Jersey Shore with my family. As I sat there, surrounded by hordes of people roughly my own age, a thought struck me. In any other setting, I would lose track of the number of headphones I saw amongst them. But here, on the beach, I saw zero. Instead of seeing anyone clutching the famous Kindle and surfing between a stack of books, I saw ratty old paperbacks.

It hadn’t even occurred to me to bring either of my Apple products to the beach. When it comes to my two favorite toys, sand and water are a big no-no (also, my nieces and nephew wouldn’t allow it since all free time goes to shell collecting and sand castle-destroying). If I had done the research ahead of time, I would’ve been stunned by the lack of discussion on the web regarding protecting your technology on the beach.

None of the accessories in the Apple store address the issue directly, which I find to be more than a little surprising. Summer is a three-month season. The United States boasts nearly 12,000 miles of coastline. According to the Long Beach Township Beach Patrol, nearly 700,000 people visited the six Long Beach area beaches alone in 2008. I’m no statistician, but that’s a lot of people hitting the shore every summer, where the main activities beside swimming and building sand creatures are lying down, sleeping, eating, and reading. That’s prime time that could be spent buying mobile applications, playing FreeCell, checking your email and listening to your perfect beach playlist. So why aren’t there specific beach-friendly accessories or products from our major electronic providers? It boggles the mind. Or maybe that was just all the sun I was exposed to in a six-day period.

To save you some time, if you plan on hitting the beach this summer and are wondering how to keep your iPod and iPhone safe, the friendly folks at Apple recommend the Incase Sports Armband ($34.95) and the like. The good news is that my Apple specialist was “pretty sure” this would protect my iPod Classic from the dangerous sand, the alternative being the pricey waterproof options (ranging from $80to $350). The bad news is that wearing the black armband will mean an ugly tan line and the waterproof headphones will, well, make you look like an idiot.

I’m especially intrigued what this will mean for Amazon’s Kindle. After all, the little handheld device is supposed to “save publishing” and “is the future of books.” I would give you my recommendation for using the Kindle on the beach, but unlike Apple, Amazon doesn’t have a 24-hour chat rep and I’m too spoiled by the convenience of customer chat to call Amazon and be put on hold. Don’t even get me started on e-mail support. Why no one has officially deemed this system completely inadequate is another post for another time.

Judi Cutrone is a digital copywriter who has navigated the world of web design, brand marketing and new media initiatives since 2006. Follow her on Twitter and

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