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Wishbone teen polling app, asking things like 'Burgers or tacos?', has 3.1 million users

For the first time, Santa Monica technology company Science Inc. has deemed one of its nearly 20 apps a hit.

Science, which incubates, buys and invests in start-ups, has been developing apps for almost two years, aimed at a young audience on the premise that smartphones are becoming the primary way teens entertain themselves. The experiments have included apps for horoscopes and dating.

On Wednesday, Science deemed a polling app it launched in March called Wishbone a success, based on its ability to attract 3.1 million monthly users, mostly girls. It’s also generating revenue from ads.

Wishbone is nowhere near as popular as media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, which are used by hundreds of millions of people. But Science Chief Executive Mike Jones sees Wishbone’s rise as validation of his belief that teens “are hungry” for more content on their smartphones and are moving away from watching TV.

Wishbone users receive a dozen questions each morning and evening that are only available for a limited time. They can access a near-endless supply of more questions -- these ones developed by fellow users -- at any time.

The questions include: “Do you want to be smartest or prettiest?”, “Would you rather be a scientist or a doctor?” and “Would you rather walk naked around school or the mall?” Users can see the number of voters and what percentage each option garnered.

On Wednesday morning, “Burgers or tacos?” had more than 100,000 votes, with 62% favoring burgers at one point.

Several factors have helped Wishbone spread, Jones said. Polling clicks with teens because they are still forming their identities and want to know how they compare with peers. By providing curated content at specific times each day, Wishbone becomes a habit. Teens want to create content too, and Wishbone skyrocketed once users could submit questions.

Potential investors have reached out after spotting Wishbone among the top 20 most-downloaded social apps on the App Store. Jones isn’t fundraising, but he has put 30 people on the project. Now, they’re looking to replicate the polling scheme with boys through an app called Slingshot.

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