Infected as we all are with the January Blues, it’s hard to believe that just three weeks ago it was Christmas Eve. The one day of the year where all of the anticipation gets too much for eager children awaiting Santa’s arrival and all culminates in the most restless sleep of the year. Well, that’s how my day usually unfolds anyway!
But in recent times, tech-loving kids hope not for modest gifts but bank-breaking tablets and smartphones. Just as desperate parents went mad to ensure that their offspring’s stocking was filled with Sony’s first Playstation and/or a replica Buzz Lightyear in 1995, in our increasingly technological world, nothing will suffice for a child but a hyper-sensitive, vastly-intelligent and highly-connected device such as an iPhone or an iPad. And it’s a demand that also extends to the bigger kids amongst us.
Where Christmas Day used to be a time for family and the forming of memories, it has now become a time for surrendering oneself to the virtual world and sharing Christmas not with the nearest and dearest smattered around us, but the anonymous communities that make up the internet. Speculative reports suggest that Apple’s application sales flourished on the day (no doubt due to the purchases of many new device owners), with the company reporting a download increase of 161% in the UK. Apple appears to be reaping the benefits of a shrewd autumn release schedule that succeeded in whetting the appetites of hungry consumers on the eve of Christmas, consolidating its reputation and considerable influence in the mobile world.
So, in between sporting flimsy, multi-coloured party hats, laughing at labourious cracker jokes and trying to stuff as many pigs-in-blankets down their throats as humanly possible, what were app-store addicts downloading on Christmas Day? Other than a few choice anomalies (Subway Surfers, Cut The Rope 2, Despicable Me), the free apps that were downloaded merely signposted the homogeneity of the times, exposing how established apps have developed a monopoly over the online activities of internet users.
Ubiquitous apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Candy Crush Saga and Facebook ranked highly in Christmas statistics compiled by 148Apps. Notably, the preceding apps scarcely left the top ten of either the Android or App Store markets throughout 2013 and their popularity was cemented as the festive season reached its peak. A distinct trend between all of these apps captions our era; that we, as humans, prefer to communicate with others (whether known or unknown) through a virtual lens, valuing the opinions and views of the online world much more highly those of our own, physically present families.
Or maybe I’m still being a bit of a humbug. Happy New Year!