Fast Company

Live From New York: The Times Square New Year's App Implies Strange Ideas About How to Party

Times Square

Building on the success of last year's live web stream of the event, this year New York's Times Square New Year's celebration is getting an official iPhone and Android app. So now you can celebrate New York City's big party anywhere on the planet. Instead of, you know, where you are.

The app comes from the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, who organize the official New Year's Eve celebrations in New York's Times Square. It involves partnerships with Toshiba and Livestream (who must be injecting advertising cash, since the app itself is free). According to a statement, the app's designed to "put you in the middle of the legendary New Year's Eve festivities in Times Square, no matter where you are in the world."

For sure, the app has some neat tech aspects: There's a six-hour live stream video feed built in, powered by Livestream, without ads, and you can uplink your own photos to Toshiba's servers, from where they'll be broadcast on a large video screen directly above the famous countdown ball. There's also some longer-term tourist data in there, acting as a "year-round source of information about the non-stop excitement that makes Times Square the 'Crossroads of the World'." There's even a link so you can check-in at Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter so you can "find out how far away you are from Times Square."

And that's where we point out a teeny, tiny flaw in the marketing behind the app. Sure, New York's New Year's celebration is a blast. But the world spins, and New Year's Eve happens wherever you are. Plus London's New Year's festivities include the measured beauty of Big Ben's chimes (and traditionally a splash in the fountains); Paris has fireworks on the Champs Élysée; Sidney has its Harbor Bridge fireworks spectacular. And so on. And these parties all happen at a different hour than New York's. Why would you want to disrupt your champagne-fueled celebration to ogle what's happening in New York, particularly if you're not American? This is a case of bandwagon marketing that's gone just a little too far.

To read more news on this, and similar stuff, keep up with my updates by following me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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2 Comments

  • Amanda Iseri

    It's definitely an interesting idea. On one hand, I agree that we should be living in the present, enjoying the company of our friends, and tactile objects (possibly of liquid nature), but when I think about the year I spent abroad in Indonesia, it may have been nice to chime in for a few minutes for a piece of Fifty Nifty "home" life...that is, had I had a phone made later than 1990 :)

    In the end, each app's not for everyone...but at least it's free if anyone's the least bit curious to check it out.

  • Alex Bonmarte

    Hi Kit,
    As principal and creative director of HAAS/créa, the developer of the Official Times Square Ball App, I wanted to say thanks for taking the time to check out our app and for considering more than the features alone.

    Your observations strike a chord with me as my immediate family is scattered around the world in different countries and time zones.

    New Year's Eve does indeed happen at different times around the globe. Each culture and locale celebrates with unique and often spectacular traditions.

    Rather than attempt to collect and cover all aspects of NYE traditions and events around the globe in one place, we opted to offer and extend the excitement available in Times Square to the world.
    Options to adjust the time zone of the countdown to reflect midnight in time zones around the world were included in app. That said, the Official Times Square Ball App is about its namesake: New Year's Eve at Times Square and all that it entails...

    Our real goal was to provide access to the excitement and energy that is unique to the New Years Eve Ball drop in Times Square for those that want to participate or enjoy the entertainment irrespective of their location.

    So far, we have had downloads in 133 countries and counting…
    We hope that the enjoyment, energy and opportunity to participate came through in our execution. I think many people will be happy to take a moment to post a photo to potentially "be there" from afar and that having access to the live countdown via the mobile webcast will add another dimension -- Instead of all eyes turning to a TV for the countdown, people will now also be able to see the ball drop in pretty much any setting which is neat.

    Back to your observations of other NYE festivities; The idea of creating a way to access, learn about and participate in celebrations around the world is compelling. I'd love to know how you would imagine an interface as an app, website or both, to explore New Year's traditions in countries around the word.

    Best wishes for the New Year!

    Alexander Bonamarte
    HAAS/créa Corp.