Teens Want Smartphones Over First Cars

How popular have smartphones become to teens? So popular that many are reportedly choosing the Web-ready, feature-rich gadgets over their first cars! Doing his best teen impersonation, The New York Times’ Nick Bilton writes: “A driver’s license? Like, whatever.” Carmakers themselves are well aware of the issue. “The car used to be the signal of adulthood, of freedom,” Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company’s manager of global consumer trends and “futuring,” tells Bilton. “It was the signal into being a grown-up. Now, the signal into adulthood for teenagers is the smartphone.”

How is Detroit planning to respond? Perhaps, making cars more like smartphones. “They could automatically check teenagers into Foursquare when they arrive at the mall,” Bilton suggests. “The car could read text messages aloud for the driver. It could have built-in cameras to take pictures and videos of passengers and upload them to Facebook and YouTube, also automatically tagging who is who in the images.” Says K. Venkatesh Prasad, senior technical leader of open innovation at Ford: “The car has to become more than just a car. It has to become an experience.” 


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