Another day, another messaging app. Start-ups and marketers alike look to teens and tweens for clues as to what will be popular tomorrow. While the rest of us were mourning the death of old school methods of communication (AIM, tin cans strung between treehouses), teens were Snapchatting away, sending messages that exist for no longer than ten seconds.
Now there's Jott, the latest in adolescent texting trends, who is benefiting greatly from one smart insight: teens need a messaging service that doesn't rely on a data plan--a service that's completely free and accessible anywhere, even offline. The app works by making devices within a small-enough radius talk directly to each other--this includes iPods and iPads--rather than send data to a cell tower and back. This is attractive among the younger set, many of whom have cell phones but no data plan (not in Dad's budget, perhaps), or are not allowed to use cell phones at school.
According to TechCrunch, the app is adding 20,000 new users a day. And it doubled its community last March up to half a million users. The upshot in growth is largely attributed to it gaining momentum among teens. CEO Jared Allgood notes that most teens love to message and make friends, but not all have the technology to do so. A recent Pew study noted that among teens who have smartphones, girls send an average of 3,952 texts per month (about 130 per day!) and boys send an average of 2,815 (93 per day).
Giving teens total access to each other is not the app's only innovative feature. Here are some other perks:
- No need to ask for digits. Nothing worse for a painfully shy teen than having to ask the big question: "Can I have your number?" Jott offers a workaround. Friends within the same network (at school together, for instance, or summer camp - it's all about that special radius) can add each other and start chatting. And as a bonus, Jott works with Instagram so users can send each other photos, import contacts, etc.
- Improved privacy. Jott offers disappearing messages and alerts when the receiver has taken a screenshot, just like Snapchat. But it does something Snapchat doesn't, which is show the user which friends they have in common with another user before they decide to add them as a contact. This ultimately cuts back on trolls gaining access to regular users, so that when you receive a friend invite you can look and see if it's Billy from math class or just some random Billy in Wherever, USA, trying to send you spam (or worse).
- Group chats with the option to mute. Sometimes you get put on a group chat via imessage (Happy bday, Randall!) and it just keeps going...and going. You're trying to work, and the phone keeps dinging, and finally you hide it under a pillow and go into another room so you can have some peace. No more.