The bewildering pinkification of technology is nothing new. It was there when Hasbro levelled the gender playing field for, er, necromancy, with its pink Ouija board for girls (opens in new tab). It was there when Nokia mysteriously branched out into nail polish.
Now, Middle East-based group Eurostar (no relation) brings us the ePad Femme - which sounds like an intimate hygiene product, but is actually the world's first tablet designed exclusively for women.
Basically it's an 8-inch Android tablet with 16GB of internal storage. As far as I can tell, the features that make it specifically female are:
- The pink home screen.
- The simplified menu (obviously, to avoid overloading the feeble female mind).
- The oddly niche bank of preloaded female-orientated apps. These include "Finest Perfume for Women", "Women's Assistant" (a weight loss tool), several yoga and recipe apps, and something terrifying called "Women's Log".
"The tablet comes preloaded with applications so you can just turn it on and log in to cooking recipes or yoga," Mani Nair, Eurostar Associate Vice President of Marketing, told the Jerusalem Post.
"It makes a perfect gadget for a woman who might find difficulties in terms of downloading these applications and it is a quick reference."
The subtext here, in case you missed it, is that all women love yoga and recipes, and hate downloading apps. That's right - downloading apps is a no-no. You can only use the ones that come pre-loaded.
This is something I cannot get on board with.
I can live with the fact that there's a tablet aimed specifically at women. I recently heard about a male hair-care product called "himpoo", which strikes me as similarly sexist. And, having spent a weekend teaching my mother - a woman who calls desktop computers "microwaves" - how to use her Kindle Fire, I accept that there may be a market for simple-to-use tablets.
But downloading apps is half the fun of a tablet.
Painstakingly researching tablet camera specs, then never taking a single photo because you don't want to be that guy; letting your expensive word processing app languish and playing Bubble Pop all the livelong day instead – these are all tablet rites of passage.
ePad Femme owners will never experience these aspects of tablet ownership. Instead, they're doomed to a turgid life of Stepford Wifery - endlessly preparing dwindling amounts of curry, recording their weight loss, doing sun salutations and browsing perfumes they can't even smell.
Unsurprisingly, Eurostar Group has only shifted 7,000-odd ePad Femmes since January. It might do better if it did away with the rather appalling notion that technology for women has to be easy to use, because dawww, kittens! Or if it unfeminised the ePad Femme and rebranded as a tablet for the non-technical. It could be called the IdiotPad. It'd make a fortune.
The most crucial change, though, would be to allow users to download apps.
Let's face it - soon some yoga-hating girl-hacker will find a way to download apps anyway. And I don't know about you, but I'd forgive a tablet for most things - even assuming that technology evades me - if it let me download Bubble Pop. Dawww, kittens!