Apple’s Secret Social Network

I occasionally blog here about the mobile habits of my 15-year-old daughter and her friends. With two teens in the house, I get to do extensive anthropological research disguised as parenting.

Over the past six months, I’ve seen the following pattern emerge:

Instagram is used in a highly curated, edited way. It’s the public performance of your life.

Facebook is also used in a highly curated, edited way like Instagram.

Snapchat is used  throughout the day for quick status updates (usually in the form of silly selfies).

But the service that she and her friends use most frequently is iMessage. Not SMS. Not WhatsApp. Not Kik. iMessage.

We know that US teens have expressed strong preference for iPhones.  Android phones simply will not do. I think the iPhone is perceived as better, cooler, and (crucially) fancier  — but I also suspect the desire for an iPhone is subtly reinforced by the fact that their peer group is using iMessage.

If this anecdotal trend I’ve observed is indeed widespread, I think the launch of a cheaper 5c could be a powerful move, one that helps to drive lock-in among teens because of the importance of iMessage in their lives.


2 thoughts on “Apple’s Secret Social Network

  1. pkulak says:

    It’s so secret that I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the people using it don’t know that they are using it. I’d love to see survey results where people are asked what the difference is between the blue and green “text messages”. But really, that’s iMessage’s great strength. But it also means that’s it’s not going to keep you from buying an Android phone.

    • Haha, you fell for the trap! I knew someone would ask this.

      As I wrote, intentionally — teens distinguish between SMS and “iMessage.” They know the difference and it goes beyond blue and green message colors. How?

      The answer is: Facetime. Teens move seamlessly between iMessage and Facetime. They are part of a continuum for teens. Text up to and through video.

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