Killer apps I'd like 2CFebruary 4, 2011: 6:00 AM ET
New tools for people who are bored by those long, rambling messages on Twitter.
I read an article about how young people no longer e-mail, preferring to text to each other short little messages understandable only by those who text short little messages to each other. The burden of formulating sentences seems to be too much for them. This rang true. Several times over the past year I've sent e-mail to friends or colleagues and received nothing in reply for days because the recipients no longer stayed in touch with e-mail. "You should have texted me," they will say.
Text messaging isn't the only way people move teeny-weeny little ideas around now, either. I was informed not long ago by a hipster banker that blogs are out, replaced by Twitter. Where in years past a person might work out a complicated thought in, say, 150 words, now they will simply tweet it. "Best of times. Worst of times. More to folo," might have been all we needed to enjoy A Tale of 2 Cities. Likewise, many business announcements are no longer made by press conference or news release. "Buying Romania," a tweet from Sergey and Larry might say. Who needs more?
The opportunities here are as clear as the trends, for those who can figure out how to serve the public's dwindling attention span. Ever shorter and more perfunctory communications. Itty-bitty sentences. Without verbs. Lots of drpped vwls. And applications for people who want their information in minuscule packages, lacking the appetite for anything heavier than a couple of bytes between meals.
Within a year or two Twitter and text will be too prolix for the truly evolved. The apps that drive the market will shrink human expression down to a nub that can be carried on a touchscreen implement no bigger than a slice of toast. A small slice. Probably a crouton. Here are some apps, applets, and sub-appletines that I am patenting for future use:
QBL® It's pronounced Quibble. You have 40 characters to complain about something. "Muffin insufficiently toasted at Mr. Muffin's on Main" is too long.
BBL® It's pronounced Bibble, as in bibulous, which means prone to drink. Users have 30 characters or fewer to convey to their "friends" where they are having cocktails that night and, for 99¢ a month more than the basic rate, preorder beverages at certain BBLicious® establishments. Sponsorship opportunities are endless, since selling principles for alcoholic beverages seldom need more than a word or two to hit home. "Have one. Have fun. Have two? Woo-hoo." Right?
BABL® Pronounced Babble, it provides legal advice to the needy in fewer than 25 characters. In complex situations, like divorce settlements, the full load may be necessary, as in "Cheaters never win, Flynn," while in others a simple "Cop a plea, Lee" may be all that's required.
BLRT® You have 20 characters to Blurt something. "Make the deal! Pronto!" for instance, or "I love you, man!"
HRT® When you're hurt by a bad employee or a funky investment manager, you have 15 characters to express your injury. Who could fail to understand "I'm mad @U"?
N/VSTR® This service provides financial advice in 20 characters or less. "Buy low, sell high." That kind of thing. Those who wish more may punch through a pay wall for enhanced access to experts who will provide up to 60 characters of information.
In the future, it is possible that if you can't express a thought in a single character, it's not going to get heard. The letter "h" will be accepted as the universal symbol for the word "hi," for example, just as "k" has come to replace "Yes, I'd love to have dinner with you -- I've been missing you and looking forward to spending some time with you after several weeks of really hard work where we've had no time to be together." Other letters of the alphabet will be quickly assigned similar duties, and if you don't like the idea, I've got a letter for you that can't be printed in this magazine.
So wadja think? Lemme know. But pls. Keep it brf.