Do consumers want a new type of messaging app?

One Saturday morning, my wife, two teenage kids and I decided to go out for late breakfast at the bakery nearby our place. It is usually a chatty time for us — we share extra stories we didn’t have time to talk about during the weekdays.

We have a tradition: we stack up our four iPhones in the middle of the table and focus on pure human-to-human interactions. No one can touch the phones until we finish our breakfast and conversation.

After one round of our usual topics — movies, school drama, U.S politics from Asian immigrants’ perspectives — naturally our chat landed on social media. We talked about the ephemeral messaging apps that are crazily popular in high school , the photo-sharing apps that are insanely used in middle school, and obviously, texting and so forth.

Suddenly a cozy fight broke out between my son and wife.

“Mom, you don’t even know how to view those photo messages,” he said with a cautiously opposing sense.

The mobile app he referred to does require to use two fingers to view the photos, which is sometimes too much or cumbersome for my wife to use. (I believe they changed this interface recently.)

“Yes! I do know,” she said defensively.

“Mom, sorry to say, but if you can’t use it, I need kick you out of my contacts”

The truth was, he didn’t like being connected to his mom on social media and used this moment to protect his own boundaries.

But my wife’s response was rather astounding.

“If you kick me out of your contacts, you will be kicked out of this family.” We all laughed. It was half-joke but half-truth.

So now I am compelled to figure out what was going on here. In a sense, this type of conflict is far from new.

“Social media has introduced a new dimension to the well-worn fights over private space and personal expression. Teens do not want their parents to view their online profiles or look over their shoulder when they’re chatting with friends,” says social media expert Danah Boyd in her book [page 54, it’s complicated]

Another example is ‘Risk Reduction Strategies on Facebook’

Generational cat-and-mouse chases are happening all the time. But let’s pose some questions: Is there any middle ground? Why is ephemerality is so critical here? Why does this encoded UI appeal to teens only? Would it be possible to have a photo messaging app that everybody can happily and easily use?

The usage of the ephemeral photo messaging apps plunges after the 21-year-old demographic. But media messaging is much bigger than the teen-dominated scene and should have use cases for everyone.

This breakfast table was the birthplace of my own app, a new photo messaging, PicJam

PicJam is a simple and private photo-messaging app

After thinking about this, I decided to make a photo messaging app that could embrace much broader audiences. In August 2015, I launched PicJam.

Aligning with this, at PicJam we’re observing that the emergence of ‘New Language’ which signals the shift for us to communicate. See my Medium article for more about Messaging 3.0.

Mobile messaging has a deep meaning in our daily lives. It allows us a direct line of communication to people we care about. It could be more powerful with the visuals. Among different demographics and varying geography, there are variety of use cases.

Over the last 6 months, to accommodate the variety of use cases and to satisfy new customers of photo messaging, our team has dedicated to build PicJam. It also solves our own problem around our loved ones. PicJam keeps the photo messages over the 24 hours. In another post, I will share more details on the development processes we step through. Please stay tune.