We recently hosted a panel of 8 college students from the University of Minnesota. The goal was to better understand how millennials think about social media, communications, video, VR, AR, the selfie generation, the future of work, and privacy. Here’s a summary of what we learned:
Text Is Dying
Quote: “Texting replaced email, and photos have replaced text messages”.
Message: Text is being used less frequently by each of our panelists. They view text as a formal way to communicate. Snap, Facebook and Instagram are the preferred communication platforms, with Facebook settings being switched to photos only. The panelists mentioned tech platforms promoting messaging within games as a way to maintain usage.
Takeaway: Text is slowly going away, replaced by video and photos. Text is viewed more as a formal way to communicate.
Quote: “I like Snap for news.”
Message: Our panelists get their news from a wide variety of sources. 7 of 8 panelists are not concerned about fake news. Snap was the most popular way to aggregate news from traditional sources (3 of 8), followed by mainstream news outlets; e.g., CNN and WSJ.
Takeaway: Professional news is still respected but not paid for by these college students.
The Future of Work
Quote: “It’s scary. If we can’t have cashiers, truckers and fast food jobs. . . how will people live?”
Message: College students know they are entering a workforce that will have dramatic changes over the next 30 years. They have concerns about who’s going to control everything as resources become more concentrated. The University of Minnesota offers a class titled “Size of the Future” that addresses the risk of job loss to automation. The group did consider these changes when thinking about a career, with an increased interest in a more technical education that feels more defensible. Ultimately these students believe that the negative impact of lost jobs will be partially offset by the positive impact of new industries being formed.
Takeaway: College students understand that the workforce is changing. They envision social challenges emerging from displacement of workers with lower levels of education. But they believe a college education will ensure that their futures are safe.
We think customer feedback is a critical (but too often overlooked) component of understanding where technology stands today and where it’s headed in the future. Our Feedback Loup series provides real customer feedback on the technologies shaping our future. Snap’s IPO is a perfect opportunity to step back and gather comments from Snapchat users on their habits and practices from frequency to filters.
Snap’s public offering is great for the tech industry and is a huge accomplishment for the company. We summarized our thoughts in an open letter to the company, touching on managing expectations while chasing a bold long-term vision. We’re big fans of the direction they are heading with their core AR capabilities and budding hardware lineup. We recently argued that Snap is an augmented reality powerhouse because Snap combines market-leading AR technology with dedicated cameras, like Spectacles, to deliver an unmatched user experience.
But we wanted to bring the Snap story to life, gather some real user feedback and, for novices, show you why people love using Snapchat. So we asked 32 college students – a small “buzz” survey within a core demographic – about how they use Snapchat. Here’s some of what we heard:
Key Data Points from our Buzz Survey of College Students:
66% snap more today than they did 6 months ago
The average user snaps 37.8 times per day
69% send more than 5 snaps per day
41% could recall a specific ad they saw on Snapchat
We know Snapchat’s global user base is growing rapidly. Our data suggests that college Snapchat users are also using the service more often. 66% of the students we spoke with said they snap more now than they did 6 months ago, 28% snap less frequently today, and 6% snap roughly the same amount.
From time to time, we’ll review new products that are relevant to our focus themes: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and robotics. Our Feedback Loup series provides real customer feedback on the technologies shaping our future. We hope that our work helps, in some small way, to bring our focus themes to life and even accelerate their adoption. Cozmo is a great example of how real consumer AI and robotics are today.
Yesterday, my kids and I spent some time getting to know Cozmo, a robot toy by Anki. Three scientists from the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University co-founded the company and launched at WWDC in 2013. With their first product, Anki Drive, they brought AI and robotics to Apple’s keynote stage in the form of toy cars that are autonomously and remotely controlled. Anki released Cozmo in October 2016, and we’ve been eager to see what the latest in consumer, artificially-intelligent robotics has to offer. The bottom line: AI-driven robots aren’t a sci-fi future, and they aren’t just for big tech companies with billion dollar R&D budgets. They’re a consumer reality, and they can be a lot of fun.
Cozmo comes to life in his charger, his quirky eyes light up, blink a few times, then he comes out to play. Once you’ve got the Cozmo app downloaded, there’s a short sequence of setup and instructional steps facilitated in the app. Before you realize it, you’re playing with a new friend that’s just learned your name.