The Information reports that Google is looking to revamp many of its most popular services in a kid-friendly way. That could include a version of YouTube that's safer for children, as well as asking an Android user's age during the setup process. All the while, parents would have the final say on what types of permissions their youngsters have access to, as required by law for sites that allow registered users under the age of 13.
Do kids Google differently?
This isn't the first time Google has researched how to tailor to kids. A few years ago, Google sponsored a study at the University of Maryland that attempted to figure out how children search for information, and how that differs from experienced adult Googlers.
Kids trying to find information for school or other interests can sometimes run into hurdles, and Google wanted to figure out how to make its search engine more accessible.
Why Google cares
Google's business relies on collecting as much user data as it possibly can, and to that end, it'd like to get a head start. The challenge is ensuring their safety in accordance with federal laws, since the Internet can be a scary place at times.
It also goes beyond the kids themselves. By offering stringent control mechanisms, Google can also appeal to parents and ideally increase their own usage of Google's services as well. Google wants to keep its services within the family.
Speaking of keeping it within the family
Apple is also making moves to increase the appeal of its products to families and kids. After paying out $32.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit related to in-app purchases made by children, Apple is emphasizing its new Family Sharing feature in iOS 8. Not only will Family Sharing make it easier to share purchased content, but there are also a lot of new parental controls for in-app purchases.
Kids are also an important reason the iPod lineup still exists, despite its declining financial significance. What the iPod lacks in current revenue, it makes up for in future potential.
iPod revenue and units have been steadily declining for years, and Apple has elongated the product cycles as a result. But over half of reported iPod units are typically iPod Touches, which -- importantly -- run iOS. There isn't a lot of data, but chances are that the age demographics are skewed toward younger users. The iPod Touch serves as a gateway product to iOS, hooking users early with purchased content that they will hopefully one day transfer to an iPhone.
With great profits come great responsibility
As companies look farther into the future, that growth will have to come from somewhere. At the same time, the current state of platform competition underscores how important it is to ensnare future customers as early as possible.
It's also true that the tech heavyweights bear a certain responsibility in ensuring kids are able to use their respective products and services safely and responsibly as technology's reach deepens within society. Just like my Uncle Ben used to tell me, "With great profits come great responsibility."
Evan Niu, CFA, doesn't actually have an Uncle Ben. He owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.