Lately I’ve found myself unable to sit through an entire episode of a favourite show without playing Candy Crush. But I’m playing Candy Crush less now than I was over the summer.
I used Snapchat for a while. Now, less so. Facebook is no longer a daily but weekly occurrence. I tried Path twice and deleted it both times. I Tindered for a bit to see what the fuss was about. I’ve heard whispers about Whisper but have yet to try it.
I’m a 27-year-old Gen Yer. Technology companies should be scared of people like me, a free-loving appaholic.
But they should be terrified of the generation behind me. Dubbed Generation Z or Digital Natives, when it comes to technology they’re downright promiscuous. And it’s still unclear how that will affect even the largest companies moving forward. A study by Time Inc. and Innerscope Research showed that young people switch media 27 times per hour.
Generation Z can’t remember a time without Internet, or even really cell phones. They’re described as early-adopting and always on. They’ve grown up with too many choices and ways to access the Internet, so they don’t have to be loyal or decisive. There are already more apps than cable channels. Which means Generation Z can hit you and quit you and be on the next cool app in 24 hours without a pang of guilt.
For anyone trying to build a lasting business, that’s a scary thought. No business can survive on such short-term love affairs.
It’s still the early days of mobile but it’s becoming clear that it’s an unpredictable, hits-driven business. And Facebook is trying to stay ahead of the problem.
It paid $US1 billion for Instagram, which exploded to millions of users in just a few short months. People were uploading photos to it instead of Facebook.
Facebook tried to buy Snapchat, a photo messaging service that’s grown bigger than Instagram in terms of daily uploads, for three times as much money. Snapchat declined.
Each of those moves was defensive. In its latest earnings call, Facebook said it was seeing a “decrease in daily users, specifically among teens.”
Facebook might not have cause for worry. After all, what’s a teenager’s opinion really worth?
“I believe the children aren’t our future,” Wall Street Journal’s Farhad Manjoo wrote over the weekend. “Kids are often wrong. There is little evidence to support the idea that the youth have any closer insight on the future than the rest of us do.” Manjoo points out that much of the technology we use today wasn’t invented by a 20-something. The average age of a founder of a billion-dollar company is 34, according to a study by Cowboy Ventures.
I’m not so sure he’s right.
Last week, a 9 teenagers ranging from 13 — 18 took the stage at Business Insider’s Ignition conference. They didn’t know each other; they were a random sampling of students throughout the New York City area. They talked about the way they use technology and while it can’t be the definition of how all teenagers think, it’s a good barometer.
“I hate Facebook. It’s just so boring,” one said. “Facebook posts are just a whole bunch of stupidity.”
“I used to scroll down Facebook and read every single status,” another added. “Now I just love Vine.”
One called Snapchat “kinda dumb.”
Current obsessions ranged from news app Circa to Netflix. There wasn’t any real rhyme or reason to their favourite apps. One mentioned enjoying Fresh Direct’s app, because he could tell his mum when he was hungry.
Now if you’re a company like Facebook, how do you fix teenagers and their app attitude problem? How can you retain users who by nature aren’t loyal to your brand — or any other brand — at all?
I really have no advice to offer. I’m already off playing Candy Crush.
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