While emoji were big in Japan from the time of their launch (and supported by a Gmail Labs feature from 2009), they began to truly proliferate internationally with the launch of Apple’s iOS 5, and its preloaded bank of emoji characters, in late 2011.
Take a look at Twitter or Tumblr today, and both platforms are overrun with yellow faces in various states of distress or joy; dancing girls; and smiling turds. When nude photos were stolen from her phone—allegedly due to a breach in iCloud’s security—and released on 4Chan last week, Kirsten Dunst used emoji to succinctly register her outrage:
Or take a look at emojitracker.com, which tracks emojis on Twitter in real time, and you’ll see that emoji use numbers in the tens of billions. Some of the most popular are unsurprising—hearts feature heavily in the top ten—others are… rather more baffling. 2.6 million uses of ‘Aubergine’, anyone?
Image: The All-Nite Images