TikTok looks set to continue its growth momentum well into 2022, with the short-form video app topping the download charts on Christmas Day, while VR and the broader metaverse shift also saw some important consumer indicators in the latest data from app tracking company App Annie.
First off, on overall downloads – as you can see in the below chart, globally, TikTok lead the way on Christmas, ahead of Instagram and Facebook.
Snapchat also remained popular, along with the top messaging apps, while Shopee, a key eCommerce platform in Southeast Asia, also gained momentum among consumers.
TikTok editing app CapCut also made the top 10, further underlining the popularity of the app, and with projections that TikTok will reach 1.5 billion users sometime in 2022, it’s pretty clear that it’s now the main app of choice, especially for young users, which is an important shift for all social media marketers to note.
If you don’t have a TikTok strategy now, whether just for listening in and monitoring the latest trends, or for broader advertising and outreach, it’s clearly time to give it some extra consideration.
But maybe even more interesting are the trends reflected in the region-specific download charts, especially the US:
As per App Annie:
“In the US, Oculus was #1 by downloads on Christmas Day as Americans unwrapped new Oculus Virtual Reality (VR) headsets under the tree. This builds off the growing trend for metaverses and immersive experiences.”
The broader metaverse shift, as envisioned by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, will likely take place in VR, so it’s important, then, that Meta sees increased take-up of its VR headsets, in order to usher in the next stage of digital connection. If Meta can own the VR space, it can effectively own the metaverse itself, and become the key hosting platform which other developers will then need to align with in order to connect with users in this expanding new world of opportunities.
We’re not there yet, and what the metaverse will be, exactly, is not defined, as such. But the broader take-up of Meta’s VR tools is a significant indicator of growing interest.
And as one market analyst recently noted:
$FB is one killer Oculus app away from a re-rate.
— Wall St. Dropout (@WallSt_Dropout) December 27, 2021
One great, functional, viral trend-sparking VR app, and you’re going to see the VR momentum accelerate rapidly, leaving the current metaverse discussion around NFTs and similar early-adopter trends in the dust.
Could Grand Theft Auto VR be that killer app?
Another key point of note in the US chart is the popularity of MMO game Roblox, which, much like Minecraft, has become an enduring platform for young gamers.
A particularly important trend to note in the case of Roblox, however, is that it’s also become a key social connector for young users, who’ve been deprived of face-to-face interaction over the past two years due to the pandemic. That could make it an even more embedded, and critical social tool, in addition to a gaming and recreational platform, which effectively sets the foundation for what the future metaverse structure will be.
In-game spending on character skins and digital products is also high on Roblox (Roblox was the top game for consumer spend on Christmas Day globally), and for the next generation of consumers, this is already a normal, habitual behavior, which points to where the trend is headed in the next decade or so, as these youngsters move into adulthood.
If you want to get a sense of what the metaverse will be, in a basic framework, Roblox is the best indicator, with a broad range of user-generated and creator-contributed elements building into the broader in-game world, which users then inhabit for hours and hours each day.
The pandemic has boosted this, and it’s now a key platform to watch. And while I would expect the broader metaverse to be a lot more advanced, the platforms and providers that will win out are those looking to create tools that connect into the larger metaverse structure, not those that offer one-off profile pictures or 2D digital art that has no direct connection into the space.
In this respect, apps like ‘Ready Player Me’, which is focused on building multi-platform enabled avatars, and hosting platforms like Meta’s VR space, are where people should really be looking. If next-gen developers don’t have a plan, or a roadmap that involves building for the protocols of the bigger hosts and networks, then they don’t have a metaverse plan at all. And even then, it’s too early to know what the universal schemas and requirements will be to be truly ‘metaverse-ready’.
In other words, if you want to understand the next stage of digital connection, don’t look to pictures of Bored Apes and pixelated characters, look to platforms like Roblox, where young users are already establishing the new norms of the future space.
You can check out App Annie’s full Christmas download overview here.
UK teen died after ‘negative effects of online content’: coroner
Molly Russell was exposed to online material ‘that may have influenced her in a negative way’ – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Philip FONG
A 14-year-old British girl died from an act of self harm while suffering from the “negative effects of online content”, a coroner said Friday in a case that shone a spotlight on social media companies.
Molly Russell was “exposed to material that may have influenced her in a negative way and, in addition, what had started as a depression had become a more serious depressive illness,” Andrew Walker ruled at North London Coroner’s Court.
The teenager “died from an act of self-harm while suffering depression”, he said, but added it would not be “safe” to conclude it was suicide.
Some of the content she viewed was “particularly graphic” and “normalised her condition,” said Walker.
Russell, from Harrow in northwest London, died in November 2017, leading her family to set up a campaign highlighting the dangers of social media.
“There are too many others similarly affected right now,” her father Ian Russell said after the ruling.
“At this point, I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope.
“I hope that this will be an important step in bringing about much needed change,” he added.
The week-long hearing became heated when the family’s lawyer, Oliver Sanders, took an Instagram executive to task.
A visibly angry Sanders asked Elizabeth Lagone, the head of health and wellbeing at Meta, Instagram’s parent company, why the platform allowed children to use it when it was “allowing people to put potentially harmful content on it”.
“You are not a parent, you are just a business in America. You have no right to do that. The children who are opening these accounts don’t have the capacity to consent to this,” he said.
Lagone apologised after being shown footage, viewed by Russell, that “violated our policies”.
Of the 16,300 posts Russell saved, shared or liked on Instagram in the six-month period before her death, 2,100 related to depression, self-harm or suicide, the inquest heard.
Children’s charity NSPCC said the ruling “must be a turning point”.
“Tech companies must be held accountable when they don’t make children’s safety a priority,” tweeted the charity.
“This must be a turning point,” it added, stressing that any delay to a government bill dealing with online safety “would be inconceivable to parents”.
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