Monday, 9 June 2008

My Generation

I've just started to put together a paper/presentation which includes how internet use varies by generation and, from that, how this might affect the future. I'll certainly give HotViews readers access to this as it develops.

But the start point was defining the "Generations" which I have done as follows:
Baby Boomers - DoB 1946 -1964 - Typically in their 50s and 60s

Generation X - DoB 1965 -1983 - Typically in their 30s and 40s

Generation Y - DoB 1978 - 1994 - Typically 18+/20s

Generation M - DoB 1995 onwards - Typically pre-teens/young teenagers.
(Source - Wikipedia)

It is what Generation M is doing now which has the greatest effect on how internet use will change in the future. Generation M has always had a mobile phone and a broadband connection. But, as both are now ubiquitous, Generation M doesn't overly stand out. 82% of 16-19 year olds in Generation M use the internet compared to 79% of 35-44 year olds in Generation X (the 2nd highest group according to Ofcom).
What does make Generation M stand out is their use of social networking with 63% of 16 -19 year olds in Generation M having one or more social networking profiles compared to just 12% of 35-44 year olds in Generation X. As Generation M morph into the next Generation, then it's almost guaranteed that social networking will become an accepted norm and clearly usage with mushroom.

Of course, Generation M were the first to demand social networking on their mobiles. Facebook is the 'Killer App' for mobile data. Amongst UK smartphone users, Facebook is the #1 app - being used on average for 1hr 44m a month. This requirement to access Facebook (and other social networking sites) 'on the move' has been one of many reasons behind a 10-fold increase in global mobile broadband connections in the last year. The GSM recently announced the 32-millionth mobile broadband connection - up from 3m in Mar 07.

Last week, iSuppli put out a research document - Wireless Social Networking Revolution Poised to Reshape Tech Industry - suggesting that wireless social networking will generate $2.5 trillion (yes, trillion) by 2020 from products, services, applications, components and advertising as smartphones and mobile broadband become the 'norm'.

I can't verify the iSuppli number or the research behind it but it doesn't sound that crazy to me; particularly if you add Generation A.

Generation A? - According to The Times today that's the 400m 30-40 year olds in the "expanding middle classes of Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa". These people have just bought their first ever fridge. They now want food to put in it, a car to go to the shops in and a mobile phone...
...and then, of course, a mobile broadband connection for their local equivalent of Facebook. Mobile broadband because the last thing these countries will do is dig up the streets to lay fixed line cables. Indeed, the GSM Association announced on 15th Apr 08 that , at the end of 2007, the number of mobile broadband connections (315,000) in Indonesia surpassed the number of fixed line broadband connections (300,000).

We really are on the cusp of a major Revolution (the title of my Thought Piece and, of course, the music that will accompany it).

And still most people over the age of 45 just 'don't get it'.
Footnote - Stewart Ferns describes 'people like us' in the old, developed world as Generation Z -but I think that's a step too far!

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