Growing up – and excuse me for dating myself here a bit – kids were into Swatch watches, jean jackets, stirrup pants, and jelly bracelets. My sister grew up collecting something called “pogs,” which I never understood. Today, kids are more technically oriented. They obsess over iPad-connected toys like Furby, and the never-ending game that is Minecraft. They also like apps, and have the power to move markets – turning otherwise silly one-off’s like “Flappy Bird” into international viral sensations.
Adults are now participating in these faddish App Store trends, too. Stupid apps, like “Make it Rain” (yes, it is what you think), have even spent time at the top of the App Store charts. Another case in point: the sheer ridiculousness that is the talk of the web crowd: “Yo.”
I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with those who see a deeper meaning in the rise of Yo.
Yo is a fad. Nothing more.
Sure, it’s a conversation starter: Did you hear of this app that does almost nothing and apparently they have funding?
This is the stupidest thing ever! [Proceeds to download and look.]
Did you hear Marc Andreessen thinks it has potential?
Ugh, I need to move to a deserted island until this “bubble” is over!
Andreessen, in case you didn’t see his latest tweetstorm, thinks Yo could represent a modern take on “one-bit communication” and is reminiscent of the global “missed call” phenomenon. (That is, how people in third-world countries and other developing markets regularly ring someone and hang up as a type of communication.)
Seemingly he misses the point that the signal is not often “yo,” it’s “I’m out of minutes; I don’t have money; here is my message.”
Sometimes, the missed call is a request for a return call. But often, it’s just a means of saying something without having to spend. People say: I’ve arrived, I’m late, or whatever else has been pre-arranged and discussed.
It is not, however, a “Yo” – as in an app that runs on first-world smartphones where data plans offer unlimited gigabytes of communication to giggly users who pay hundreds per month for data to power digital toys. Phones where getting someone’s attention is as simple as a text, iMessage, Facebook message, Snapchat, WhatsApp, tweet, or even – you know – a phone call you can afford.
No, “Yo” is not the next big thing. It is the next “Flappy Bird.” It’s an “I Am Rich.” It’s water cooler chatter. A Happy Meal toy. Idiocracy. A momentary distraction as we tire of Facebook.
Today, we Yo, tomorrow we throw.
It’s an app that will be much-discussed, maybe even mimicked (please let Hodor be real), then tossed when the next weird and crazy app comes along.
And that’s just fine.
After all, no one ever said all apps have to be Facebook-level success stories or find multi-billion-dollar exits. There’s room for apps that are one-hit wonders.
“Call Me Maybe,” Yo.
And we could have all just enjoyed yo’ing for a while, but someone had to go and bring us back to our senses. Party poopers.
Still, if you chose to set this particular app aside, you might have been feeling like you’re missing out. And sure, today you are, but you won’t in the long-term.