What if people picked up their smartphones less? Would it mean that old-fashioned forms of communication like face-to-face chatter might regain their footing in this seemingly digital world? People might find the answers to these questions sooner rather than later.
A new type of apple
A trade group in Singapore has just invented a new app that offers incentives to people who don't pick up or look at their smartphones, reported AdWeek. The idea behind Apple Tree is to get people to start enjoying the company of one another more often, instead of constantly checking emails and text messages.
The way it works is that when you're in a social situation, you're supposed to put your phone alongside a friend's device, and then a tree starts to grow, explained BBC News. The longer you go without picking it up, the bigger your tree gets. As it grows, you get rewards along the way, like discounts to stores. This idea may seem outrageous to the majority of people who can't function for five minutes without a phone, but it's already received a substantial amount of support.
Solid foundation and support
Creators of the app entered it in a contest that was based around the notion of "Bringing Singaporeans Closer Together" and it won, according to AdWeek. The Singapore Computer Society gave $24,000 to the three students who developed Apple Tree – which is significantly more money than a number of other successful business ideas had to start to start off with. Not even $10 billion company Airbnb had that kind of clout until it was years into its existence.
With its financial and social foundation, Apple Tree has the potential to take off and become one of the few ways to tear people away from technology. While some might view this is as a positive when it comes to human interaction, AdWeek pointed out that it can be a devastating to digital ad groups.
Can it shake advertising to its core?
Just last year, digital advertising beat out television for the first time ever, according to the Internet Advertising Revenue Report. Mobile advertising had triple-digit growth for the third consecutive year, generating more than $7 billion in revenue in 2013.
"The news that interactive has outperformed broadcast television should come as no surprise," Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB, said in a press release. "It speaks to the power that digital screens have in reaching and engaging audiences. In that same vein, the staggering growth of mobile is clearly a direct response to how smaller digital screens play an integral role in consumers' lives throughout the day, as well as their critical importance to cross-screen experiences."
The return of print
If people were looking at their phones less and less, this platform could potentially shift downward. Without phones how would people see advertising? The same way they've always noticed it – through print mediums. Unlike digital devices, printed products have traditionally encouraged human interaction.
Regardless of the level of success of this particular app, there may be a string of technologies that discourage phone use in the future. The topic of people overusing phones has been on the table for quite some time and now innovators are seeking solutions.
Companies that wish to grab the attention of the consumer on all mediums should continue to invest in print products, such as flyers and catalogs. Have you ever heard someone say put that book down? Probably not. That's because there's so much more of a stigma that surrounds people overusing phones than there has been about other sources of advertising and socialization. Businesses that wish to reach people beyond mobile devices should continue to leverage print products.