For those who find using words too cumbersome, a new world of pictures is upon us, reports Jenna Wortham in The New York Times (3/10/13). Sticker apps — collections of small images designed to communicate thoughts and feelings — are already a commercial success in South Korea and Japan. A company called Naver, of South Korea, “says it has more than 100 million users” for Line, its sticker-app, and has now “opened an office in San Francisco.”
The question, says venture capitalist David Lee, is whether “user behavior and cultural norms in Asia and other countries are so different that they don’t translate well to the US.” Some Americans are, in fact, accustomed to “using emoji, the colorful symbol alphabet that contains nearly a thousand images of cute animals, food items and expressive smiley faces to express what words cannot.” However, the stickers are more elaborate, and “do not function on the default texting program.”
That said, David is backing MessageMe, a sticker-app, because he thinks it “fits well into what he sees as the future of social networking, where friend groups are built around phone address books and texting, rather than a web site.” MessageMe co-founder Arjun Sethi meanwhile says sticker-apps are consistent with the increasingly visual way people are communicating, and it’s still early enough for them to become habit-forming. “We just have to get people used to it,” he says.