Posts Tagged ‘Tech’s’
Tech's most fickle users are also its most important. So how do the biggest social networks keep them coming back?
Teens have always been the backbone of tech’s early adopters crowd, plucking new technologies from obscurity and hurling them into the mainstream consciousness, using them in unexpected (and often better) ways, and minting the fortunes of developers and entrepreneurs in the process.
The seemingly inexplicable success of social apps like Snapchat or Tinder is, more often than not, explained by the teen demographic, any new app's most devoted and capricious user group. Yet as quickly as these services rise, victory can be short lived — teens, armed with short attention spans, discard stale technology with little remorse.
It's this latter prospect that weighs on the minds of larger, more established tech companies. Facebook, whose success was built on the backs of a massive network of teens and young adults, must now grapple with its mainstream status and the user apathy that comes with such overexposure. In a recent survey of 13 to 18 year olds, 61 percent of teens chose Tumblr as their favorite social network. Facebook, with its billion-plus users, came in second with 55 percent of the teen vote. Results were similar for young adults 19 to 25, with 57 percent choosing Tumblr as the top social network. At the risk of oversimplifiying, it would appear that Facebook — a place where you're now as likely to run into your grandmother as you are your friends — is no longer cool.
It's a troubling thought not only for Facebook, but for any social network that bleeds into popular culture. And it prompts the question: how does an app or a social network grow without alienating its early-adopting core? BuzzFeed approached these social networks to find out how they're grappling with their teen problem.
As you might imagine, it's a delicate subject. None of the social networks we talked to offered up numbers on teen usage, in some cases treating the data as one would treat proprietary financial information (for Facebook, a publicly traded company, sharing teen usage numbers would qualify as a legal disclosure), Snapchat couldn't be reached for comment while Twitter declined to comment altogether. Facebook issued a generic response telling BuzzFeed, “we are gratified that more than 1 billion people, including enormous numbers of young people, are using Facebook to connect and share.”
The company was a bit more forthcoming in this year's annual report where it noted:
We believe that some of our users, particularly our younger users, are aware of and actively engaging with other products and services similar to, or as a substitute for, Facebook. For example, we believe that some of our users have reduced their engagement with Facebook in favor of increased engagement with other products and services such as Instagram. In the event that our users increasingly engage with other products and services, we may experience a decline in user engagement and our business could be harmed.
Instagram similarly noted that teens “represent an important subset of our 100 million monthly active users.” The company’s stock answer affirmed that they “find teens value Instagram as a medium for both expression and connection” but refused to divulge any specifics as to how the company continues to court the teen demographic.
Tumblr, the de facto teen social network cited its celebrity and vertical (politics, music, etc) outreach, varied post formats, and meetup culture as reasons for its success. It also touted the annonymitiy of Tumblr's platform and lighter emphasis on follower counts, as compared to Twitter. “Even if your mom is on Tumblr, you don't have to follow her and since there's no requirement to use your real name. You don't even have to know that she's on the site,” Tumblr's Danielle Strle told BuzzFeed.
Google says Plus is able to rely on the expansive, preexisting Google network and product suite to draw in younger users, though a recent third-party report shows only three percent of females and six percent of males under 18 are active users on the network. “We have a lot more work to do to futher integrate and realize the power of our network,” Google Plus VP of product Bradley Horowitz said of the site's potential. Google's problem, though, is an issue of integration into the larger Google machine. “What teen doesn't use Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, Google Maps, or search? It's not as if we're sitting here saying, 'how do we get teens to use Google products?' It's about how we can continue to provide utility,” he said.
For those without Google's infrastructure, manpower, and bank roll, keeping teens interested isn't a matter of brute force (though it's unclear if Google will be successful). “The currency of the network is very important with teens,” 21 year old mobile app developer and founder of Kiip, Brian Wong said. “Which is why creating subbrands and experimenting with a product that looks fresh is so important.”
Twitter and Facebook seem to be following that advice. Twitter rolled out Vine, a separate video app last year, which (at least for now) seems to go out of its way to separate itself from Twitter. Likewise, Instagram rarely acknowledges Facebook's ownership and works hard to remain a standalone product in its users' eyes.
And then there's the very real and nebulous concept of simply “staying cool” among teens. Wong uses the social dating app Tinder as an example of of an obscure product that penetrated the teen social dynamic. “Teens don't really care if a piece of technology is owned by a big company or if it's publically traded. Nobody knows Tinder was started by a serial entrepreneur with a background in advertising. They care that it made digital flirting acceptable without feeling weird.”
It boils down to a problem that, unfortunately for tech companies, can't easily be solved with an algorithm. “In the end,” Wong said, “it's about what's cool to talk about without getting made fun of.”
While Cornell has given its researchers the resources to build spider-like robots and move Pong paddles with the power of the mind, students more interested in the software side of engineering have not been getting as much love. That’s about to change, however, with the recent City Planning Commission approval of Cornell Tech, a project to build an applied sciences campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. Now the next step would be to get a blessing from the City Council. After all is said and done, we’ll hopefully see the 12-acre site break ground in 2014, the campus opening its doors in 2017 and a full build-out by 2037. As they await their new home, Cornell is holding classes for aspiring computer whiz-kids at Google’s Chelsea campus, where we’re sure they’ll get an inspiration or two. To see what else Cornell Tech has in store, check out the source link below.
Filed under: Science
Via: The Next Web
Source: Cornell Tech
You can’t gain ‘em all, right? Sure, 2012 saw its share of high points, but there were a lot of missteps along the way from companies both huge and small. Unfinished items, serial delays, lawsuits and layoffs– after the break, we’ve got a list of some of the not-so-pretty minutes in tech.
Continue reading Tech’s most significant misfires of 2012Filed under: Cellular phones,
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Shimi certainly has the makings of a viral video recording favorite, however its makers at Georgia Tech wish you to understand that there’s even more to the dancing robot than merely a pretty face. The “interactive musical buddy,” produced by the school’s Center for Music Innovation, is a one-foot-tall smartphone-enabled “docking station with a brain.” Shimi has a whole slew of performance, making use of the phone’s face-detection to track listeners and far better position its speakers. Users can easily also clap out a beat, which the ‘bot will utilize to pull a matching track from the phone’s playlist, playing the track and, naturally, dancing to the beat. Forthcoming capability features the ability for users to shake their heads or wave a hand to affect Shimi’s track choices. Google I/O attendees will definitely get the option for a closer consider Shimi this week in San Francisco. In the meantime, explore a couple of video presentations of the robotic doing its thing after the break.
Microchip Tech’s net income more than triples
Microchip Technology Inc. on Thursday reported that its net income more than tripled in the latest quarter as sales of analog chips and micrcontrollers set records and the company benefited from a big acquisition.
Virginia Tech’s no stranger to housing supercomputers — those folks strung together 324 Mac Pros back in 2008 just for kicks, giggles and “research” — but their latest computing monolith is quite the shift from the ordinary. A cool $2 million is floating over to Blacksburg in order to create HokieSpeed, a “versatile new supercomputing instrument” that’ll soon be primed and ready to handle not just one or two tasks, but a variety of disciplines. Wu Feng, associate professor of computer science at the university, calls this magnificent monster a “new heterogeneous supercomputing instrument based on a combination of central processing units (CPUs) and graphical processing units (GPUs),” with expected performance to be orders of magnitude higher than their previous claim to fame, System X. One of its first assignments? To give end users the ability “to perform in-situ visualization for rapid visual information synthesis and analysis,” and during the late hours, hosts a campus-wide Quake deathmatch. Just kidding on that last bit… maybe.
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