Defining a cohort is far from an exact science, but describing generational behavior is still useful for analyzing broad trends. Much has been made, for example, of the buying power of Baby Boomers. And Gen X’ers are often lovingly referred to as the MTV generation. The latest cohort to make waves in market analysis is being called the Millennials, or Gen Y, theoretically anyone born between 1980 and 2000. In an attempt to analyze some of the characteristics of Millennials, Motorola hosted a panel at CTIA to discuss what Millennials are doing today and what they’ll be doing next.
In the what-they’re-doing-now category, IDC’s Lewis Ward who moderated the panel gave some specific examples of what teens are doing that the rest of us aren’t. Accessing mobile TV and streaming music, for example, are much more common among American teens than the rest of the US population. (Not surprising.) Someone on the panel also pointed out that voice on mobile networks has peaked and is now on the decline. Why? Because of texting – something many teens, unlike older generations, prefer over actual conversation.
As far as what’s next for Millennials, a lot of it depends on what broadband networks can support. Motorola’s Fred Wright made the argument during the panel that WiMAX and LTE will make media services available to consumers at a price they can afford, increasing the prevalence of existing wireless media applications and spawning new ones. Assuming that’s the case, Millennials will be more than ready to take advantage. Here are some choice quotes from focus groups that Motorola conducted recently with high-schoolers. Note that cache-n-carry behavior is apparently commonplace today, but it’s reasonable to hypothesize that streaming would take its place if wireless networks could support it with higher speeds in the future.
- “I’m going on vacation tomorrow so I’m downloading everything I have onto my iPod. It takes about two hours to download one movie.”
- “My mobile device is so slow. I can’t stream media. I usually have to wait and then I find other things to do.”
- “I’ve never gotten internet on my phone. It is slow and expensive and it takes an hour to download one page.”
- “I download everything onto my iPod and then transfer onto another computer.”
There were two other trend predictions that also came up during the CTIA panel: more focus on parental controls when the network is everywhere, and mobile video telephony. Both are in existence today, but will certainly grow in importance with the next generation of network technology… and the next generation of breadwinners.