Multifunction Devices and Teens

Multitasking is a huge concept for devices today. The idea of a single use, single feature device is becoming increasingly rare. Today, the lines are really blurring in technology – between mobile and desktop devices, between phones and media players, between TVs and computers. Even alarm clocks have WiFi built in. And especially among teenagers, the idea of multipurpose, connected devices is becoming more and more important.

For teenagers, one of the most important concept of our lives is being connected to each other – we like being in touch with all our social circles, be it for friends around the corner from school to friends across the globe. Media, entertainment, and pictures are also huge features – consider the huge importance of music, movies, video games, and Facebook albums in today's world. And in portable devices especially it's become more and more critical to have these features to ensure that you appeal to teens.

A few years ago, the idea of having a Zune with a web browser or an iPod touch that has serious gaming on it wasn't even something people considered. If you wanted to email or IM people, you'd use a computer. Gaming was done on a console or Gameboy. But now, the idea of building these features together hasn't just become a convenience for teens – it's a necessity. The fact is that the market wasn't capable or expected to offer this service in years past, forcing users to buy separate devices – why older people, perhaps, are more insistent on separate, specific featured gear for each situation. It's only now, as these multifunction devices have been made – at an affordable price point – that the new generation of technology users is becoming attached to them over the past system of specific devices for specific uses.

Teens are becoming more and more attracted to devices that multitask – iPod nanos with cameras built in, a Zune HD that plays games and has Facebook, and of course, the titanic success of the App Store (not just for Apple, but Android and other devices as well); in short, the extending of portable media players beyond media. These connected media players that not only do media, but internet and beyond, are becoming must-have device for teenagers: delivering in one package the huge wealth of features that teens want.

And this multitasking concept becomes even more important going into the summer – when most high school and college students, being off from school, go off to camp or travel. In these situations, having a device or two that can function as almost everything a young adult wants – music, video, Facebook, Twitter, gaming, pictures, emails, even eBooks is huge. One device, one charger, only one thing to worry about losing or breaking, for a teenager at camp or traveling, is a huge thing.

Finally there is another huge reason that teens are using converging devices is simple – pricing. The golden rule of teenager's technology usage is pricing – or specifically, lack of pricing. As a general rule, teens have no money, and when spending it, hate spending their own money. (When it's their parents' money, think the exact opposite). So buying one device that accomplishes everything they want to do at a "good enough" level for what they want saves them the need, and therefore the money, of buying 4 or 5 dedicated gadgets that may do those same tasks, albeit slightly better then the multitasked device. Money, and teen's unwillingness to spend it, is a huge reason for the popularity of these multifunction devices among the youth market.

So overall, it's these devices, multipurpose, connected, and increasingly mislabeled portable media players – that do far, far more then portable media – that are what's big in tech for teenagers right now, especially considering the time period of summer vacation: where having such a device is hugely important for a traveling or away from home teen.