Your Generation, Your Gadget

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The Pew Research Center released a report last week based on polling that asked adult respondents what tech gadgets, computers, and consoles they owned. The survey results are broken down among six generations and include devices ranging from cell phones to tablet computers. The report in a nutshell: The younger you are, the more devices you are likely to own. No surprise there. But seeing the numbers through a generational perspective, well, makes me feel old. Ages 18 to 34, the so-called Millennials, are substantially less likely to own a desktop computer than people ages 35 to 66, the Gen X’ers (me, sorta) and Baby Boomers. Millennials are more likely to have a laptop, MP3 player, gaming console than a desktop computer. I love my desktop. It’s like my homebase for global operations. At the other end of the tech-savvy spectrum, 9 percent of adults have none of the devices listed. Major media outlets reporting on the research focused on the broadest results. CNN’s headline read: “Report: 90% of Americans own a computerized gadget.” Agence France-Presse read: “85 percent of US adults own cellphone: survey.” I’m fascinated that 3 percent of adults 75 and older have a game console. You’re never too old to play games. Just look at these folks.

Is Foursquare played out?

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The first time I saw someone mention “Foursquare” in my Twitter feed sometime in mid-2009, I thought the people were actually talking about the kid’s game (which I was awesome at in grade school, by the way). I later learned it was some kind of check-in app with badges, including one for going to douchebag bars. The app sounded like fun. I took the plunge in 2010 and have become a regular user. For me, the fun part is checking in at new, interesting places. I want to share my discoveries. But my time is constrained and I don’t get around much, so I keep checking into the same places. And, honestly, that is becoming a bore. I am the mayor of a few places, but I don’t care. Part of my problem is that I also use Gowalla and Yelp to do check-ins. It’s all turning into a chore. Maybe if the business owners were engaged and made using Foursquare more interesting, but not many of them know it even exists or that their customers are “checking in.” If Foursquare doesn’t become more interesting to use, I can easily imagine not using it. Nonetheless, Foursquare is still generating a lot of hype. New services are being called the Foursquare version of this or that. One wants to be “Foursquare for films.” Another is “China’s Foursquare.” But what about Foursquare? The latest reports say it may be worth $250 million dollars. Maybe the potential is there, but this Pew Research Center report says that location-based services have so far only made a 4-percent dent in the online market, and on any given day, only 1 percent of online adults are using services such as Foursquare or Gowalla. If people are using the Facebook version, I have yet to see it in my feed.

Foursquare, however, reports that it is growing like gangbusters – 3,400 percent in 2010 – and had 381.5 million check-ins, including one from the International Space Station! That should be good enough for the investors. I may quit, but I can also return if it turns into something more than it is now.