Our thoughts on the Walkman’s splashy return, what brands should know about Wigo, and a selfie blog you’ll actually want to follow. (Really.) All that and more in the Friday Don’t Miss List!
1. The Walkman’s Splashy Return
It’s CES time, and yesterday we rounded up three of the tech innovations and products that young consumers might crave soon. Don’t miss some of the other attention-worthy launches happening at the show. The Verge calls out their favorites with their Best of CES Awards, which this year includes BMW’s anti-collision as best auto technology, Sixense’s VR Lightsabers as best VR, the Withings Activité Pop watch as best wearable, and Sony’s Walkman as best comeback. Yes, the Walkman is revived—and it costs $1,119. While we love the idea of a Walkman comeback, we kept the device off our own list—the fact that Millennials and teens reach for their phones to listen to music, rely on streaming, and don’t have that kind of disposable income means the Walkman ZX2 has an uphill battle with younger consumers.
2. Who’s Nearby You?
Apps and platforms are turning young strangers around the world into connected neighbors, appealing to Millennials who have grown up with the reality that digital connections are easy to make, and that they can matter as much as those relationships that take place in person. Nearby Live is an app that provides those connections with strangers who are living, well, nearby, allowing users to anonymously chat with strangers for one-on-one chats and picture exchanges. Nearby originally launched a few years ago as Who’s Near Me Live (WNM Live), which has over 2.1 million users worldwide. The rebrand is taking place as the rest of the tech world catches up with the idea of anonymous socializing, which has been a standout trend in social media for the past year.
3. Hey, College Kid
We spoke to 22-year-old Wigo founder Ben Kaplan about his college-student-only app, which is taking off at schools across the U.S. Don’t miss Kaplan’s thoughts on monetizing the app in the future, which should be of interest to brands: “We are 100% free and 100% ad free. A couple of things that would be potentially fruitful down the road: we know a lot about what the most popular bars are right now, and if I’m a college student and there are $5 pitchers of Bud Light at Bar A, and no drink deals at Bar B, and we’re deciding where to go, if I knew that Bar A had that special, I’m going to go to Bar A. I can save money and I can get a cohort of people through the app with the chat feature and the invite feature to follow me to Bar A. Now Bar A has the traction and they’re making a lot more money. I think any conversations about monetization would touch on all of this. Again, it’s not ads popping up about sneakers, it’s something that says ‘Hey, college kid, save a little money, go to this bar if you want, and if you never want us to show this to you again, we won’t.’ But right now our only priority is building a great user experience.”
4. Vinyl’s Production Problem
Speaking of comebacks…This week’s Millennial newsfeed let you know that while streaming is winning out over digital and physical album sales, which dropped 9% in 2014, vinyl sales continued to dominate, climbing 52%. In fact, the format was the only album sales to see growth, and the 9.2 million records sold “shattered” 2013’s record-setting total by 3 million LPs. This (Millennial-fueled) vinyl madness is taking the industry by surprise, and actually causing some problems. As we’ve mentioned before, making vinyl is a time and labor-intensive process, and there aren’t currently enough presses to keep up with the number of artists and labels who now want to produce them. The “awkward question” of how the production will keep up with the ever-rising demand is continuing, as “as far as anyone knows, the last new machines were created in the early 1980s.” (To make you feel old, that was more than 30 years ago.)
5. Links We’re Passing
Millennial’s selfie-taking behavior is often cited as evidence of their narcissism, but one blog is hilariously showing that selfies have technically been a part of history for ages. Museum of Selfies reframes works of art to include a smartphone so that the subject looks like they are actually taking a dreaded selfie as opposed to sitting for a distinguished self-portrait. The creator of the blog says she started the project after taking one photo for fun with a friend, and liking “how this simple thing could change their character and give their facial expression a whole new meaning.” If works of art are really just ancient selfies, is the selfie stick the new paintbrush? We’ll try not to think about it.