In defense of dumb apps

Last week, while scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw this tweet from App Annie:


Though I’m not particularly enamored with Slingshot, what caught my eye about this tweet were the two other top searches for Kim Kardashian and Yo, referring to two apps that have skyrocketed in popularity within the past couple of weeks.

In case you don’t know what these apps are, Kim Kardashian refers to Glu Games’s Kim Kardashian: Hollywood app, where you can create your own celebrity as well as date and dump some of Hollywood’s most eligible bachelors like Riff Raff and Lil Wayne. In other words, this game is a re-skin of their game Stardom: Hollywood, released in early 2013.

And Yo? It doesn’t get as simple as an app meant for saying “Yo” to your friends. Just choose some friends in your contact list and the app will send them a notification, letting them know that you said “yo.” (Yes, this is really an app).

As embarrassed as I am for the state of apps right now, there’s something to be said about these “dumb apps” that suddenly go viral. Here’s why:

1. They keep the mobile app ecosystem interesting

Though we can try and extract as much data as possible from our cohorts, apps like Flappy Bird and Rainbow Unicorn Attack are testaments to the fact that we still do not have an “exact formula” for developing instant hits for mobile. What’s great about this is that the mobile app ecosystem yet remains to be monopolized (and hopefully never will be!) because people can still try their hand at this mobile app lottery and see if they’ll get lucky with the next Candy Crush Saga.

2. They encourage creativity and entrepreneurship

Time and time again, I continue to ask myself “Why didn’t I think of that?” especially when it comes to mobile apps. The fact that these apps are so simple provides even more motivational fodder to hunker down and develop an app. It is true, however, that with stupid successful apps come lots of copies (remember when the App Store started to reject all of those Flappy Bird copies?) which defeat the purpose of originality and creativity. Nevertheless, if there are people who think they can make a better app and act upon their ideas, then mobile app entrepreneurship will continue to thrive.

3. Let’s face it — they make us laugh

As much as I think Yo is the silliest, most useless app in the world… I got a good chuckle out of it when my friend first showed it to me. In fact, a couple of students from Carnegie Mellon decided to launch Yo, Hodor, an app that lets you greet your friends with a friendly “Hodor!” which I thought was hilarious. Whether the creators of Yo are complete trolls are not, it gives people something funny to talk about and roll their eyes at, letting people bond over the silliness of Yo or the ridiculousness of Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.


And maybe that isn’t so bad after all.


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