Emoji*** are about to get a lot more colorful.
The governing body for those graphics - yes, there is such a thing - says it’ll update its code so that those smiley faces can have various human skin tones.
While the Unicode Consortium is in charge of the graphical text messages between cellphones, the market for emoticons on messaging apps - which rely on your mobile phone's data plan - has been growing for several years.
"Why punch out five characters to express yourself, when you can punch one character and say it all?” says Ram Menon, whose company Avaamo provides a secure messaging app for businesses. The app includes workplace-centric emoticons.
"There’s a lot of things we try to express at work, we translated that into emojis, like 'anybody ready for lunch?,’ 'kill me now,’” which is just a guy with a gun to his head, Menon says.
“The emoticon market is a super high-growth market right now,” says Evan Ray, CEO of Swift media, which sells packs of emoticons and digital stickers to a younger audience, most of whom are in their teens.
"We work with a lot of major movie studios and we’re seeing a lot of success from entertainment brands,” says Ray. "Actually, surprisingly, one of your really big packs is actually Betty Boop."
The growth in the emoticon market has added up to measurable revenue. The Japanese messaging app Line said last year that it was making about $10 million a month just from digital sticker sales.
“It’s a place that brands really need to be for engaging new, young brand advocates," says Ray. "And it’s a place that they really need to look into… because it’s the new social network. It’s where people are going to be.”
Ray says his company works with some 250 brands, including Disney. “Our most popular pack with Disney is definitely 'Frozen.'”
And, Ray adds, all of this growth in a nascent emoji market has happened in a mere three years.
“It’s been a crazy phenomenon… On the sticker side, the bigger emoticons, there’s about 6 billion sent every single day,” says Ray. He adds that the stickers are also a powerful marketing tool, for when new films, looking to drum up interest, sponsor packs of emoticons that can be spread around by messaging app users.
If you’re alive in 2014 and you’re not sure what emoji are, it’s ok—but it’s high time you learned.
This is an emoji:
So is this:
Emoji are little pictures or smileys you can incorporate into text. They can be faces, buildings, food, weather, dancing ladies or poop and they represent feelings, emotions and activities. And food. And more.
Some people use emoji to replace words. For example, if I’m out for dinner and my friend texts me to ask what I’m doing, instead of typing “I’m getting dinner,” I can just text a emoji of what I'm eating....
...and my friend will understand and probably want to join, because...
Emoji started in Japan, but have spread to the U.S., thanks to something called the Unicode Consortium.
What is the Unicode Consortium?
Unicode sets the industry standard of code, which means it regulates the presentation of text across different platforms and languages - including the emoji language. The emoji you find on your iPhone use Unicode. They were developed in Japan.
How are emoji and emoticons different?
Emoticons are smiley symbols. :-)
Emoji are only the standardized set of Unicode icons and include smileys, but also a broader collection of icons. Like poop.
What are the other picture things I see the kids sending?
A lot of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Line have developed stickers. While emoji are directly incorporated into your phone’s texting keyboard, stickers are exclusively for the app in which they live.
However, several apps are creating hybrids that can function as stickers within the app, but can also be incorporated into text.
For example, Bitstrip recently rolled out an app called Bitmoji where you can turn your face into a sticker and put that sticker into a text message. Or comic strip.
Line has done something similar with their set of stickers called Sticons.
What else is new in emoji-land?
The announcement prompted a yearning for the days when the only animated face was on a Microsoft Word paper clip.
Why should I care about emoji ?
If anyone under the age of 40 was at your Halloween party this year, you probably saw someone with an emoji-themed costume.
People use them all the time. This website tracks which emoji are getting the most usage on Twitter.
This is a Tumblr where someone re-created emoji in real life (IRL, as the kids say).
That's all for now!
and Bitstrip Seth