It’s been said at a number of mobile industry events that if you really want to understand where mobile is going, don’t ask the 40-year-old industry executives running the companies – ask the kids who are raised on modern technology.
The 30th anniversary of the Sony Walkman a couple of weeks ago made this point in no uncertain terms.
Take for example this piece from BBC Magazine in which a 13-year-old swaps his iPod for a Walkman for a week – and writes a review.
It took me three days to figure out that there was another side to the tape. That was not the only naive mistake that I made; I mistook the metal/normal switch on the Walkman for a genre-specific equaliser, but later I discovered that it was in fact used to switch between two different types of cassette.Did my dad, Alan, really ever think this was a credible piece of technology?
Cute, but his points about the Walkman’s low capacity, poor battery life and lack of a shuffle function speaks volumes about the basic expectations kids have regarding devices and functionality.
An even better example comes from writer Warren Ellis, who recently got himself a modern Walkman and found himself not only comparing it to the ancient cassette version, but also to his 13-year-old daughter’s expectations vs his own.
I don’t think, holding my original tape-playing Walkman in my hands, it even occurred to me that such a thing could or should hold a library of music and a day’s worth of TV shows. When I showed this tiny, heavy thing to Lili, I’m wondering now if she was thinking, "yeah, it plays music, but what else does it do?" ...Clay Shirky’s line about how anything that ships without a mouse is broken — that’s her generation. (I still think he was just one foot behind the time — I understand he was working from an anecdote, but I can’t help thinking the word he should have used is "touchscreen.")
You’ve been warned. Pay attention.
On a related note, teens aren’t impressed with your Twitter either.