Playing Mind Games | Breakthrough Funding

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Playing Mind Games

For app developers, a great idea with strong appeal just isn’t enough – Silicon Valley wants to ensure you’re well and truly hooked


These days, smartphones aren’t a hard sell to the average consumer. According to the Office of National Statistics, 93% of UK adults owned or regularly used a mobile phone last year, 71% of which were smartphones. And that’s before we even start on the kids…

We use them for everything. And we mean, absolutely everything, even though the consequences can be a mixed bag. Last year, Pokémon Go was credited with getting sedentary teenagers off the sofa to hunt for imaginary monsters, but recent news stories have revealed that fertility apps can actually make you too stressed to conceive.

Amazon have now launched an app to help parents reconnect with their distant and monosyllabic children. Who tend to be distant and monosyllabic because they’ve got their eyes and brains permanently glued to their smartphone… Pick the bones out of that one.

But even though apps, games and software of all kinds have become a ubiquitous part of daily life for most of us, techie developers don’t like to leave the success of their programme to chance. There’s just too much competition around, with more emerging literally every day, to rely on brand loyalty etc. So Silicon Valley has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve to keep users coming back for more.

As revealed on a recent episode of US TV show 60 Minutes, technology engineers use a variety of techniques to conquer our ever-shortening attention spans. These include holding off notifications on Facebook statuses for a few hours, as a sudden rush of likes suggests that the site is really reaching people and encourages you to use it more often.

Snapchat’s Snapstreak is a particularly ingenious example. Users build a ‘streak’ by sending pictures to their friends, but the streak is broken if they don’t send anything for more than 24 hours. It’s a gimmick that has apparently proved quite addictive for many young people, with some even asking friends to keep the streak going on their behalf while they’re on holiday.

Are you a techie who’s come up with a brilliant way to make your app or game stand out from the crowd? Get in touch on 0800 772 0800 and share your story with the team – we’d love to hear what you’ve been up to.

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